Head of Libya’s reform-linked media group quits


The head of a media group allied to a reform-minded son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi resigned after an apparent power struggle with conservatives inside the ruling elite, local reports said.

Suleiman Dughah was head of the al Ghad media group founded by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who is seen as a possible successor to his father but has been fighting a turf war with influential groups that are resisting his attempts at reform.

In the past seven days officials have suspended the print version of Al Ghad’s Oea newspaper and detained several journalists working for the group. The journalists were released on Tuesday when Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi intervened, Reuters reports.

A report in the online edition of Oea newspaper quoted Dughah as saying he quit because he had been outside Libya and “could not do anything for his colleagues who were detained.”

It said he also took a swipe at political opponents of Saif al-Islam, though he did not identify them.
“(Dughah) said he was still a soldier in the project of Al Ghad, in the role chosen by his leader Muammar Gaddafi and his son Saif al-Islam, pointing out that there is a party … that is still not open to the other point of view, and is hindering the project because it is damaging them,” the report said.

Officials have given no explanation for detaining the journalists or suspending printing of the Oea newspaper.

Political developments in Libya, home to Africa’s biggest proven oil reserves, are watched closely by Western oil majors including BP, Eni and Exxon Mobil which have poured billions of dollars into oil and gas projects.

Dughah was a prominent member of the Libyan opposition who had been living in exile abroad. Many people saw his appointment last year to head the media group as a direct challenge to the old guard in Libya, where political opposition is outlawed.

Libyan conservatives believe reforms pushed by Saif al-Islam, who holds no official post, could threaten stability.

Some analysts say the infighting helps preserve the influence of Muammar Gaddafi, who has been in power for over 40 years, because it prevents any one group from becoming dominant.