Benghazi Cabinet Office Employees Denounce the Kidnapping of Their Boss in Tripoli: Report and Analysis |
By Sami Zaptia.
London, August 9, 2021:
Employees of the Cabinet Office in Benghazi yesterday denounced the (Tripolitan) authorities anxious to reveal the circumstances of the kidnapping in Tripoli of Benghazi’s chief of staff Rida Fretees.
In a group statement in Benghazi, employees called on the responsible authorities, headed by the Interior Ministry and its affiliated agencies, to exercise their duties and assume their responsibilities in the face of this incident, and to speed up the search for the Fretees. without any complacency or inaction that could endanger his life.
They stressed that the rule of law can only be achieved by combating crime, holding those who violate it accountable and imposing the prestige of the state on each of its forces.
Meanwhile, the official Libyan state news agency LANA reported that “informed sources” had reported that contact with Fretees had been lost since August 2 while in Tripoli.
LANA reported that sources confirmed that Fretees was kidnapped by masked men in the Dahra area of Tripoli, and his fate is still unknown.
He said preliminary information indicates that Fretees’ disappearance occurred after he left Deputy Prime Minister Hussain Al-Gatrani’s office at the prime minister’s office in Tripoli.
Notably, the video statement by Fretees colleagues was posted on Deputy Prime Minister Gatrani’s official Facebook page – but not on the official Libyan government pages.
Analysis – The national unity of Libya?
There is still no official publicly available evidence that Fretees was kidnapped or that he was kidnapped by militias based in Tripoli / West Libya.
Nonetheless, the kidnapping of a politician from Benghazi to Tripoli would be a huge embarrassment for Prime Minister Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba – and in particular one of his senior officials.
Aldabaiba had warned all his ministers that he would only employ a minister / deputy minister if they were willing to travel across all of Libya – regardless of their tribal or political allegiances / sensibilities / enmities. So in a way he’s ultimately responsible. This is probably why he and his government have remained silent on the incident, hoping that they can announce his safe release soon.
Moreover, Aldabaiba prides himself on being the Prime Minister of the Libyan Government of National Unity (GNU) – the government of all Libya for all Libyans. Rapture opposes this narrative, a narrative he needs and finds strong in terms of applicability. If the mask of the “GNU” narrative falls, it could empower political opportunists keen to end Libya’s new political order.
Militias from Tripoli?
If it is proven that Fretees was kidnapped by a Tripoli militia for his political allegiances in eastern Libya, that would prove (in addition?) The PM’s and his government’s lack of control over the Tripoli militias. . This would undermine the weak narrative favored by Tripoli that the state and its institutions are making a comeback.
Undermine the GNU and the elections?
It would send a negative message to all who were on the other side of Libya’s political divide – but now want to be reconciled. It would make those with known political views fearful of traveling to the other side.
It can also spur political extremists and those who want instability and division to carry out kidnappings head on. These could easily spiral out of control, completely undermining the GNU and its narrative and shattering any hope of holding the December 24, 2021 election.
Tripoli-based security forces must find Fretees unharmed and soon – to prevent his kidnapping from escalating into a political bombshell.