Family protest over missing Libya Olympic chief

TRIPOLI - Family and colleagues of Libya’s Olympic Committee president protested outside the prime minister’s office on Thursday, urging the government to do more to find him, four days after he was taken from his car by gunmen in Tripoli.
Nabil Elalem.
Nabil Elalem.

TRIPOLI - Family and colleagues of Libya’s Olympic Committee president protested outside the prime minister’s office on Thursday, urging the government to do more to find him, four days after he was taken from his car by gunmen in Tripoli.

Nabil Elalem was with a colleague when two cars carrying armed men in military-style clothing blocked the road, other colleagues have said. The men told him he had to go with them and sped away, leaving his colleague behind. There has been no news about his whereabouts since.

Carrying pictures of the Olympic Committee chief as well as banners that read “Where is Nabil Elalem?”, a few dozen of the committee’s staff stood silently alongside his relatives outside Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib’s office.

“We are here to ask - what is the government doing?” Elalem’s brother Salah said. “The whole world is asking about him. We want the government to do its duty.”

“We are still waiting to see how the problem will be sorted,” Elalem’s colleague Arafat Jwan said. “There is nothing for now.” A group of the demonstrators later met with Keib.

Since the end of the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi last year, the interim government has struggled to impose its authority on numerous armed groups who refuse to lay down their weapons and often take the law into their own hands.

Elalem, a former Libyan judo champion, took charge of the Olympic body after its president Mohammed Gaddafi, one of the deposed leader’s sons, fled to Algeria last August.

“This is an important person, the state should guarantee his security,” Mahmoud Jehani, a former soccer player and coach said. “I hope it will end soon.”

Libya’s representatives at the London Olympic Games, which begin on July 27, are due to head to the British capital soon.

The country’s team of about 10 athletes is set to compete in judo, swimming, athletics and weight-lifting. Jwan said that for now the team was still planning to go to London.

 

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