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Sat, 11 July 2020

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Libyan MPs call for apology and clarification over Boris Johnson’s ‘dead bodies’ comment

Libyan MPs call for apology and clarification over Boris Johnson’s ‘dead bodies’ comment

Agnes Chambre

2 min read

Libyan MPs have demanded Boris Johnson apologise over his controversial remarks about the war-torn Libyan city of Sirte.  


The Foreign Secretary said during a fringe event at party conference that the city could be like Dubai "once they clear the dead bodies away".

The comments have sparked outrage from Fayez Seraj, who leads Libya's Western-backed government in Tripoli, who said they were “unacceptable”.

Libya was plunged into a bitter civil war, resulting in the deaths of thousands, after Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011.

The city of Sirte was finally captured from Isil militants last year, but the country is still largely ungovernable.

Mr Johnson said business bosses had “a brilliant vision to turn Sirte, with the help of the municipality of Sirte, to turn it into the next Dubai”.

And he added: "The only thing they've got to do is clear the dead bodies away and then we'll be there."

But the Foreign Secretary's remarks were badly received, with Mr Seraj demanding an explanation during a meeting with Britain’s ambassador to Libya. 

Members of the county’s house of representatives also questioned the comments. 

The eastern parliament's foreign affairs committee issued a statement calling for "a clarification from the British Prime Minister and an apology to the Libyan people".

Mr Johnson’s comments also prompted calls for his sacking from furious backbenchers and were branded “inappropriate” by Downing Street. 

Justice Minister Dr Phillip Lee tweeted that “anyone decent would” condemn the Foreign Secretary’s suggestion that the city could be like Dubai "once they clear the dead bodies away".

Backbenchers Heidi Allen and Anna Soubry both said Mr Johnson should be sacked as Foreign Secretary, while Sarah Wollaston said he should "consider his position".

Read the most recent article written by Agnes Chambre - Confusion among Labour's top team as senior figures disagree over second EU referendum

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