Egyptian Military Ruler Visits Libya

Published January 16, 2012 6:45PM (EST)

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Libya's premier on Monday asked Egypt's visiting military ruler to hand over backers of the ousted Moammar Gadhafi regime who fled to Egypt.

Egypt's Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi arrived in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Monday. It was his first visit to Egypt's western neighbor since his military council assumed power after the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak last February, following an 18-day popular uprising.

That month also marked the beginning of Libya's revolt, which turned into a bloody eight-month civil war that ended with Gadhafi's capture and killing in October.

During his trip to Libya Monday, Tantawi did not talk to reporters.

In the past Libya has called on the Egyptian military rulers to assist in handing over loyalists from the Gadhafi regime.

"We asked (Tantawi) to help us with those from the former regime who have taken refuge in Egypt and who continue to threaten the stability of Libya," Libyan prime minister Abdurrahim el-Keib told The Associated Press. He did not give names.

Tantawi's visit triggered a small protest.

Some youths demonstrated in the lobby of the Tripoli hotel where he was meeting Libyan officials. They called for solidarity with Egyptian reformers who have been demanding that the military hand over power to a civilian body in Egypt. They held signs that read, "Down with Military Rule."

Also on Monday, two clashing tribes agreed on a 48-hour cease-fire and prisoner exchange.

Ismail al-Aib, head of the Gharyan local council, said that his followers signed an agreement with the al-Asabia tribe to give back 24 prisoners in exchange for four captives .

The two sides began fighting on Friday when members from Gharyan ordered the al-Asabia tribe to hand over people they believed were loyal to the Gadhafi regime.

Five people were killed and more than 50 injured in the clashes.

The clashes underscored the tenuous security situation in the North African nation. Libya's new leaders are still struggling to rein in the various militias that played key roles in toppling Gadhafi but have largely refused so far to disarm or submit to the new government's authority.

By Salon Staff

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