Libya’s Prime Minister Ali Zeidan called for “wisdom and rationality,” on Thursday after he was released from brief captivity by armed men in the capital Tripoli.
“We hope that the matter will be handled with wisdom and rationality as dictated by national interests,” he said in a statement at the government offices.
Mr Zeidan described his apparent abduction as part of “political rivalries that will not affect security in Libya.” “Security agencies are carrying out their duty to preserve security of citizens and foreigners alike,” he added, according to Libya’s official News Agency LANA.
He did not give details about the identity of his captors, believed to be former rebel militiamen.
Mr Zeidan appeared in good health as he made his televised statement.
The circumstances of Zeidan’s seizure at dawn from the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, where he was staying, remained unclear.
Revolutionary fighters said they had arrested him in collaboration with an anti-crime unit in the Interior Ministry for alleged administrative and financial irregularities.
The Prosecutor General’s office condemned the move as a kidnapping, saying that no order for Mr Zeidan’s arrest had been issued.
Shortly before the premier was freed, the interim government held an emergency meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister al-Sadiq Abdel-Karim, who afterwards read out a strongly-worded statement calling for his immediate release.
“The abduction of the head of the government is a crime, which will not affect the legitimacy of the state and its institutions, which stand against these acts,” Abdel-Karim said.
Following Mr Zeidan’s captivity, a statement from the Libyan Revolutionaries’ Operation Room, a militia group loosely linked to the government, said the premier had been arrested under an order from prosecutors and was being well taken care of.
Spokesman for the Interior Ministry’s Crime Fighting Department, Abdel-Hakim al-Balazi, told LANA that Mr Zeidan was in the department’s custody.
Al-Balazi added that Mr Zeidan was held under an order from the Libyan Revolutionaries’ Operations Room and his department.
British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke on the phone to Mr Zeidan after his release.
“They talked about how the UK would continue to support the Libyan government and the Libyan people during this challenging transition, including support in helping them overcome the security challenges that they face and that are so important in overcoming in order to achieve a stable, free, peaceful and prosperous Libya,” Mr Cameron’s spokesman said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US was “pleased” to hear of Mr Zeidan’s release and condemned the kidnapping, saying the events “only underscore the need” to work with Mr Zeidan’s government.
“Libyans did not risk their lives in their 2011 revolution to tolerate a return to thuggery,” he said.