November 17, 2010 / 11:54 AM / 9 years ago

TIMELINE-Events in Libya's internal power struggle

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Reformists led by a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have clashed with powerful conservatives, leading to the brief arrest of 20 journalists and the suspension of a newspaper.

Below are the main events so far this year in the power struggle between Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and those who oppose his attempts at reform.

January 2010 — The Oea and Quryna newspapers, part of the Al Ghad media group founded by Saif al-Islam, say they have been forced to suspend publication under pressure from officials unhappy about their reporting. Officials deny they are blocking publication. Both newspapers had been pushing at the limits of press freedom in Libya by publishing articles critical of the government. Their online versions are not affected.

July — Both newspapers return to newsstands. Oea’s editor tells Reuters they came back after resolving financial problems and receiving support from official circles.

September — During a visit to the World Expo in the Chinese city of Shanghai, Saif al-Islam berates the government over the standard of the Libyan pavilion. “The Libyan government did not even bother to send a junior employee to attend Libya’s day at the exhibition,” he tells reporters. “That shows that there is no state in Libya.”

November 4 — The print version of the Oea newspaper is suspended again. Local media quote the office of Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi as saying it ordered the suspension, but no reason for the decision is given. It follows soon after Oea printed an article calling for a “final assault” on the government, which it alleged had failed to tackle corruption.

— Saif al-Islam arrives in the neighbouring country of Algeria, according to Algerian media reports. He tours provincial towns on the northern edge of the Sahara desert, and is escorted by senior Algerian officials. He stays in Algeria until Nov. 7

November 7 — The Libya Press news agency, another part of the Al Ghad media group, says that 10 of its journalists had been arrested by Libya’s Internal Security Agency. There is no comment from officials on the arrests.

November 8 — The next day, the agency says the number of its journalists in detention has gone up to 20. Those arrested include Fawzi Batamr, deputy managing-director of the Al Ghad group, the news agency said in a statement.

November 9 — The detained journalists are allowed to go free after the Jana state news agency reports that Muammar Gaddafi issued instructions for their release and ordered an investigation.

November 10 — Suleiman Dughah, the former opposition figure hired a year ago to run Saif al-Islam’s media group, resigns. He says he is stepping down because he had been unable to do anything to help his employees when they were detained.

November 11 — The Oea newspaper is back on newsstands but with a new title and a new editor. An editorial in the paper says the previous team had been having “illusions” about coming under official pressure. Oea’s online edition is unaffected by the changes and it publishes a note saying it has nothing to do with the new newspaper. (Compiled by Christian Lowe; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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