Libyan PM sacks foreign minister Mangoush over Israel meeting

Tuesday, Aug 29, 2023

TRIPOLI: Libya´s internationally recognised prime minister has suspended his top diplomat after she met her Israeli counterpart, with news of the encounter triggering demonstrations in a country that does not recognise Israel.

Oil-rich Libya, which plunged into chaos after dictator Moamer Qadhafi was toppled and killed in 2011 Nato-backed uprising, has been divided since 2014 between the UN-supported government of Prime Minister Abdelhamid Dbeibah in Tripoli and a rival administration based in the country´s east.

Angry protesters in Tripoli and other western Libya cities blocked roads with burning tyres and waved Palestinian flags on Sunday night, after it emerged that Najla al-Mangoush had met with her Israeli counterpart in Rome last week.

Analysts who spoke to AFP appeared to agree Monday that Mangoush was the “fall person” for decisions made by Libya´s rival leaders.

She was “provisionally suspended and subject to an ´administrative investigation´”, Dbeibah´s government said, hours after Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said the “unprecedented” meeting had taken place.

Mangoush´s whereabouts were uncertain on Monday. Libya´s Internal Security Agency (ISA) said she had not been authorised to leave the North African country, following reports on social media that she had flown to Turkiye as the protests flared. Mangoush “is on the travel ban list until she submits to the investigation”, said the security agency.

Turkiye´s Anadolu news agency, citing security sources, said Mangoush had already left for Istanbul following the diplomatic furore. The Libyan foreign ministry had in a statement defended the meeting with Cohen as a “chance and unofficial encounter”.