In the latest move by the Libyan National Army (LNA) to take over the country’s municipalities, Major-General Abdul Razzaq Al-Nazhouri, the HoR’s military governor for all northern Cyrenaica, has ordered the mayor of Ajdabiya, Salem Jadhran be removed. In his place, he has appointed a retired colonel, Embarek Otman Mohamed Al-Mnafi, as its military commander.
The move was expected. When Nazhuri started the military takeover earlier this month, sacking the mayor of Benghazi and replacing him with a colonel, it was predicted that Ajdabiya would be the next target.
In Benghazi, the political gridlock within the council which prevented it from any effective services was used as the reason for the takeover. In Ajdabiya too there are political divisions which have enabled Nazhuri to act.
Two months ago, three of the town’s councillors demanded that mayor Jadhran, brother of Petroleum Facilities’ Guard leader Ibrahim Jadhran, be sacked, accusing him of using the post for personal gain. It was reported at the time that the demand had the support of not just the Zwai tribe but also a large section of the Magharba tribe, to which the Jadhran family belong.
However, the latest move also needs to be seen within the context of the power struggle between Khalifa Hafter and the LNA on one side and Ibrahim Jadhran and the PFG on the other to control Ajdabiya, the one area in the east not that does not support the LNA, as well as the oilfields and terminals.
Two days ago, in what was clearly a preparatory move, elders from the Magharba tribe issued a statement supporting Hafter and calling on PFG members to join the LNA.
It is far from certain, however, whether the LNA has the military muscle to enact the decision. At the nearby Zueitina oil terminal, the LNA now control the small nearby town, but the PFG still control the terminal itself. In the case of Ajdabiya, Salem Jadhran still has enough support to retain control over certain areas of the town.
The town was quiet but tense today, a member of the PFG there told the Libya Herald, but the expectation was that there would be fighting in the next few days. The LNA, he said, was intent on crushing the PFG.
Yesterday in another move against the country’s mayors, Nazhuri banned them from meeting in the far eastern town of Musaid.