By Jamie Dettmer
A Benghazi court has opened an investigation into the murky July 2011 death of the then top Libyan rebel military commander Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes and has summoned Libya’s current interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil to appear before it to answer questions.
The move adds to an already unsettled political picture here. The country’s election commission has hinted already that the scheduled June 19 national election will have to be delayed because of administrative challenges involving the vetting of candidates and the printing of ballot papers.
General Younes, a former officer and interior minister in the Gaddafi government, was assassinated along with two aides after being summoned to the de facto rebel capital of Benghazi to appear before a judicial inquiry. Abdel Jalil announced his death on July 28 2011 and provided few details. It is unclear tonight whether he will respond to the summons.
Benghazi rebels have increasingly expressed in recent weeks their frustration with the pace of political change and have argued they are under-represented on the ruling National Transitional Council, of which Abdel Jalil is chairman. They have also expressed unhappiness with the large number of former Gaddafi figures in positions of authority in Tripoli. A Benghazi rebel source linked those frustrations with the timing of the investigation.
Asked whether this could turn into a confrontation between Benghazi and Tripoli, the source said: “It depends on how Jalil reacts.”
The general’s assassination angered members of his tribe — the Obeidi, one of the largest in east Libya, who blamed the rebel leadership for having some role in Younes’ murder. Tens of thousands of people gathered the day after the announcement in Benghazi’s central Courthouse Square – renamed Tahrir Square by the opposition – to observe Friday prayers and to mourn general.