(GIN)—Ugandan opinion writer Charles Onyango-Obbo took up his pen this past week to denounce the deadly meltdown in the north African nation of Libya and the apparent neglect of that country by black Africans.
“Terrible things are happening in the Arab North, and the rest of Africa south of the Sahara desert, aka sub-Saharan Africa, doesn’t seem to be interested or bothered,“ wrote veteran journalist Onyango-Obbo in a recent online edition of The East African.
“Libya is dying, and black Africans don’t give a damn,” he said harshly.
“The place is falling apart,” he went on. “There are probably more weapons and bombs in Libya than people, in the inevitable crisis that has followed the grim end of (Col.) Muammar Gaddafi’s rule two years ago. Hundreds of people have been killed. The country is broke, and getting worse by the day. The US has cut and run, telling its citizens to leave.”
“The biggest mess is happening in Libya,” he said ominously.
Chaos has been building in Libya since Col. Gaddafi was chased from power and murdered with a bayonet in a NATO-backed uprising in October 2012.
“To begin with, it is no longer clear who is in charge,” the writer observed. Three weeks ago, for example, an Islamist-backed businessman was elected by the General National Congress—Libya’s third prime minister in three months. But outgoing Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni has now refused to turn over power, claiming irregularities in the appointment of his successor.
“Enter rogue former general Khalif Haftar. He has raised a formidable army and is launching attacks on Islamists groups all over the country, most intensely in Benghazi. He even has a private air force.
“If Libya was elsewhere in Africa, we would have pressured the African Union to send a peacekeeping force there. So why don’t we?”
Onyango-Obbo chided the “Arab brothers and sisters up north” who, he said, “don’t pay much attention to us, either. They have not sent peacekeepers to Somalia, Central African Republic, or DR Congo either.”
Sub-Saharan countries, however, may be stretched too thin with internal issues to bring relief to their north African neighbor. This week, heavy fighting broke out in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, apparently between the armed group Ansar al-Sharia and irregular forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a former army general.
“Residents are at home and they are very scared, waiting for the clashes to be over,” Suleiman El Dreswsi, a Benghazi resident said in a press interview.
“Central government cannot control anything happening here, in the east [of the country], they are hopeless and useless”.
*C. Onyango-Obbo is an Executive Editor with the Nation Media Group, Nairobi, Kenya. He is a political commentator on issues in East Africa and the African Great Lakes region.
Category: Africa Briefs