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Reactions to Johnson’s statement about Sirte

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LIBYAPOSPECT – Editorial

The British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, had faced calls for sacking him because he said, on Tuesday at a Conservative Party conference, that the Libyan city of Sirte could become the next Dubai once it had cleared “the dead bodies away.”

Johnson stated that “there’s a group of UK business people, some wonderful guys who want to invest in Sirte on the coast, near where Gaddafi was captured and executed.”

The first adverse reactions Johnson had faced were from his political party, Conservatives, and from the Labour Party.

The Conservative MP, Heidi Allen, had reacted by saying that Johnson should be sacked.

Also, the Conservative MP, Sarah Wollaston, criticised Johnson by stating that “demeaning jokes about real people murdered in Libya would be crass even from a stand-up; appalled to hear this from our foreign secretary.”

Considering the British politicians’ comments on Johnson’s statements, some Libyan observers and writers answered LIBYAPROSPECT’s question about Johnson’s statement.

From her side, the Libyan journalist, Sana Soleman Elmansouri, told LIBYAPROSPECT that Johnson “could’ve said, all they have to do is clear the grounds from dangerous mines unless they want more dead bodies rather than saying all they have to do is clear the dead bodies away.”

The Libyan writer, Mohamed Buisier, said that “I think he just used the wrong words to express good intentions. He could have done better.

Buisier added that Johnson meant that the Libyans should do housekeeping first.

The Libyan media man, Jalal Othman, commented that “in fact, Johnson shouldn’t be blamed because his attitudes towards Libya are positive.”

Othman added that Johnson had visited Libya with a high-level delegation, and his government deals positively with the Libyan issue through its ambassador to Libya, Peter Millett, who supports the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

Othman said that Johnson has got a sense of humour and when he talked about Sirte he used his humour, adding that “it seems that some British politicians wanted to use the Libyan issue to attack Johnson.”

One of the members of the Libyan dialogue committees, who wanted to remain anonymous, told LIBYAPROSPECT that when Johnson used the term “Dead Bodies” he was talking like a politician. He added that in the political speeches, the term “Dead Bodies” maybe means the dead political operation, which means the failure because of the obstacles.

The member of the dialogue committee stated that “it looks like that Johnson, as a diplomat, didn’t want to say clearly that the obstacles are the House of Representatives (HoR), the State Council, the failed governments in Libya, or the political and military conflicts; therefore, he used the term “Dead Bodies.”

Officially, on his side, the head of the Presidential Council (PC) of the GNA, Fayez Al-Sarraj, met the British ambassador to Libya and asked him for an explanation. Al-Sarraj said that some of Johnson’s comments were unacceptable.

Millett replied that Johnson “was referring to deaths of foreigners belonging to terrorist organizations. Hundreds of Libyans died in the battle to liberate Sirte and are widely regarded as martyrs.”

In the same context, Millett told the head of the State Council, Abdul-Rahman Al-Swehli, on Thursday, that Johnson didn’t mean to offend Libya or its people. he added that Johnson’s words were distorted.

In the eastern side of Libya, the HoR had condemned Johnson’s statement. The HoR had demanded an apology for Johnson’s comments.

From his side, Johnson had not apologized. He said on his Twitter account that “shame people with no knowledge or understanding of Libya want to play politics with the appallingly dangerous reality in Sirte.”