Jibril's late arrival in Tripoli fuels fears of rift in rebel leadership
The new interim Prime Minister of Libya, Mahmoud Jibril, faced an early challenge to his authority last night, after finally arriving in Tripoli, a fortnight after opposition fighters captured the capital.
The prolonged absence of the senior leadership of the Transitional National Council (TNC) has prompted fears of a rift between the political and military command in the rebel ranks and raises doubts over the efficiency of the rebel government.
"He should be leading from the front," said the TNC spokesman Jalal al-Gallal, speaking of Mr Jibril's prolonged absence. "I think people's patience is running out. They need to see commitment and they need to see results."
Mr Jibril, who arrived in Tripoli on Wednesday, said that all members of the interim leadership should be in the capital by the end of next week. He said the business of running the country would only begin in earnest after the defeat of the Gaddafi forces. "The battle of liberation is not finished yet," he said. He said that regime officials would remain in place in embassies and ministries for now.
Mr Jibril now faces the task of asserting authority over the various militias that hold the city. Fighters from brigades hailing from around the country have descended on Tripoli in recent weeks. Alongside them are the armed local groups of the resistance cells that rose up to take it on 20 August.
Officially, Libya is led by the TNC, which has been recognised by Western governments as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.
Its 40-strong Benghazi-based council mostly comprises lawyers and technocrats and includes former regime ministers and political opponents recently returned from exile.
The chairman of the council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, was formerly Gaddafi's Justice Minister, but resigned to join the rebels in Benghazi. Mr Jibril, as chairman of the National Economic Development Board, was also a member of the former regime. As fighters, aid workers and diplomats flooded into the capital, both men have been noticeable by their absence.
Shashank Joshi, of the Royal United Services Institute, said that the senior leadership had ceded political authority to competing groups in the Libyan capital.
"The TNC probably perceives some risk of assassination, but the problem is that only a visible and effective government is going to generate the stability needed in the first place," he said. "I don't think the rebel leadership recognises the way in which their absence is prolonging the power vacuum."
In addition to asserting authority, the senior leadership faces logistical and security issues in the city. There are mile-long queues outside petrol stations and the supply of running water and electricity remains erratic.
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