The kidnapping and prompt release of Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan last week continues to lead the front pages of Arab newspapers on Sunday, which discuss the event’s effect on Libyan politics.
“Islamists in Libya call for Zidan’s resignation,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, reporting that a group of Al-Qaeda supporters demonstrated against the US in the country’s eastern capital, Benghazi, protesting the abduction and arrest last week of Al-Qaeda leader Abu-Anas Al-Libi.
Zidan had accused his political opponents of trying to “revolt against legitimacy” by kidnapping him.
Meanwhile, Saudi-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports the arrest of a “security official” suspected of involvement in Zidan’s kidnapping from a Tripoli hotel.
Abdul Hakim Al-Bal’azi, a spokesman for the anti-crime unit, was arrested by the same unit following statements he made to local press about the kidnapping, before the prime minister was freed. Bal’azi said that Zidan was arrested based on accusations leveled at him by a man named Abdul Ra’uf Al-Mana’i.
Zidan said that his opponents in parliament were behind a coup attempt. He accused one group, the Operations Room of the Libyan Rebels, of carrying out the operation. The group’s head, Sha’aban Hadiyeh, denied any involvement in the kidnapping.
“Zidan’s kidnapping has made him a hero!” complains A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abdul Rahman Rashed, claiming that even Libyans who do not doubt the authenticity of Zidan’s kidnapping (he was released seven hours later) need more from their leader than just courage in the face of danger.
“Libyans do not settle for heroic positions, but demand steadfastness in changing the [country’s] bad situations. Parliament, elections and international support for state-building have all been attained, but [Libya] has not yet succeeded in establishing true government institutions. Militias, regional tribal and political groups continue to struggle over Libya.”
Hajj underway in Saudi Arabia
One and a half million pilgrims will arrive on Sunday at Mina, near Mecca, to begin the rituals of the Hajj pilgrimage, Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera reports.
According to the report, the number of pilgrims allowed to enter this year was limited to 1.5 million due to renovation work underway in Mecca, a number which will remain in place until construction is completed in 2015.
In order to avoid catastrophes, the kingdom’s fire department decided this year to ban the use of liquid cooking gas throughout the days of pilgrimage.
Al-Hayat reports that Saudi Arabia has set up the largest tent camp in the world for the pilgrims, on an area of 2.5 million square meters.
“Saudi authorities have completed their preparations in all domains to ensure an easy Hajj for the guests of God,” reads the report.