Libya’s rebel leader disbanded the entire executive branch of his de-facto government Monday, officials said, in a bid to end a major political crisis caused by the assassination of a top rebel general.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council dismissed several senior officials, including the rebels’ finance, defense and information ministers.
“Mr. Mustafa Abdel Jalil has disbanded the executive office,” spokesman Shamsiddin Abdulmolah told AFP, adding that the de-facto prime minister Mahmud Jibril will now be tasked with creating a reformed executive office.
Another NTC official, Mohamed El-Kish, confirmed the news, adding that some ministers may be reappointed, but “a few will definitely not come back.”
It is the latest phase in the crisis sparked by the assassination of General Abdel Fatah Yunis – amid his return to Benghazi under arrest in late July.
The NTC has come under heavy fire for its role in events leading up to Yunis’s death, as well as its handling of the aftermath.
Although details are sketchy and still under investigation, it is known that an arrest warrant was signed by senior NTC executive member Ali Essawy, raising allegations that the NTC unknowingly helped facilitate his murder.
The rebel defense minister, Jallal al-Digheily – also in the executive office – and his second in command have also come under fire for continuing a foreign trip when news of Yunis’s arrest emerged.
The council has faced angry and sometimes violent protests from Yunis’s tribe, as well as demands for reform from groups that were at the forefront of the February 17 revolution.
Before Monday’s announcement Jalil had insisted that a criminal investigation was under way and promised that an internal investigation into the NTC’s management of the crisis would not flinch from apportioning blame.
“No one is above the law, starting from the top of the NTC,” he said.
The urgency of the dual probes has only been exacerbated by pressure from Yunis’s Obeidi tribesmen for quick justice and even retribution.
Since the general’s death, tribal tensions have come to the surface in a country where clans for decades have formed the basis for solving disputes in the absence of functioning judicial institutions.