Libya's interim PM feels the heat

Women tour the plundered kitchen in Col Gaddafi's Baba al Azizia compound on 27 August 2011 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Col Gaddafi's Tripoli compound has become Libya's most popular tourist attraction

Libya's interim prime minister has been branded "an obstacle to the revolution" by some of the armed groups that are furiously jockeying for power in post-Gaddafi Tripoli.

On Sunday, Mahmoud Jibril outlined plans to put the various informal military units that have fought against Col Gaddafi under the control of the Transitional National Council.

It's a move that many see as a logical next step in transforming Libya's DIY rebellion into a joined-up administration that can guide the country towards elections.

But, a well-placed source close to the city's top military leader, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, told me that the prime minister was "trying to divide the nation", and said military groups "from Benghazi, Misrata, the Nafusa mountains and here in Tripoli" were demanding that Mr Jibril halt his plans and resign immediately.

"His time is up - he spent more time in Paris than Benghazi during the last seven months," said the source with evident contempt.

So are we veering towards the first major political crisis of not-quite-post-Gaddafi Libya, or is this just some rather aggressive manoeuvring in an understandably feverish - but still broadly positive - environment?

Political bargaining

The encouraging news, for now, is that nobody seems to be publicly questioning the legitimacy of the TNC itself. Instead it's the prime minister personally who is coming under fire.

A spokesman for the TNC, Jalal el-Galal, said it was no surprise that various armed groups who led the rebellion were reluctant to hand over control to an unelected civilian administration, but he saw the issue as one of political bargaining, rather than something more serious.

He suggested there could be major developments in the next couple of days.

By the way, I spent half an hour earlier on Monday at Col Gaddafi's ruined compound in the centre of Tripoli - a place Libyans tell me they often were too scared to even look at as they drove past.

Now it's become the country's most popular tourist attraction - with families pouring over the rubble and exploring the underground tunnels.

The political situation here may be complicated, and the military deadlock around Col Gaddafi's last outposts is still a big concern, but you only have to join the gleeful crowds hunting for souvenirs at the compound to feel another surge of optimism for this country.