Freed Libyan premier accuses ‘political party’

AFP-JIJI

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has accused a “political party” of organizing his abduction by armed gunmen Thursday, the latest example of the lawlessness prevailing since Moammar Gadhafi’s overthrow.

Zeidan appeared in good health when he arrived at government headquarters after his ordeal, waving to waiting well-wishers as he climbed out of an armored car.

“I hope this problem will be resolved with reason and wisdom” and without any “escalation,” Zeidan later said in comments broadcast by state television as he left a Cabinet meeting.

The pre-dawn seizure of Zeidan came five days after U.S. commandos embarrassed and angered the Libyan government by capturing senior al-Qaida suspect Abu Anas al-Libi on the streets of Tripoli, whisking him away to a warship in the Mediterranean.

Witnesses said Zeidan was held at a police station south of the capital, and that his captors released him after armed residents surrounded the building and demanded he be set free.

In comments made to France24 television, Zeidan accused a “political party” of organizing the kidnapping, without naming the group.

“It’s a political party that wants to overthrow the government by any means,” he said. “In the coming days, I will give more information on who this political party is that organized my kidnapping.”

After being freed, Zeidan met with his ministers and members of the General National Congress — Libya’s highest political authority.

The Operations Cell of Libyan Revolutionaries, former rebels who had roundly denounced al-Libi’s abduction and blamed Zeidan’s government for it, said it had “arrested” the prime minister on orders from the public prosecutor.

But Zeidan’s Cabinet said that ministers were “unaware of immunity being lifted or of any arrest warrant” for him.

Later, the Brigade for the Fight against Crime, a police division made up of former rebels, also claimed responsibility, the official LANA news agency reported.

The government said it suspected both groups of being behind the abduction. The two groups fall under the control of the Defense and Interior ministries but largely operate autonomously.

Zeidan, who was named prime minister a year ago, had condemned the U.S. capture of al-Libi and insisted that all Libyans should be tried on home soil.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry denounced Zeidan’s abduction as “thuggery,” while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned it “in the strongest possible terms.”