Libyan justice minister resigns as pressure builds on Gaddafi

The most senior resignation yet highlights internal tensions within the government.

Events in Libya remain uncertain; there were reports this morning that Colonel Gaddafi had left Tripoli for his home town of Sirt or his desert base of Sabha, but we've heard little since.

One concrete development is the resignation of the justice minister, Mustafa Mohamed Abud al-Jeleil, who stepped down over the "excessive use of violence against government protesters". One naturally takes issue with the use of the word "excessive" (would a reduced level of violence be acceptable?) but his resignation is a sign that parts of the Libyan establishment have turned firmly against Gaddafi.

Al-Jeleil is the most senior official to resign so far. He joins the country's ambassadors to the Arab League, India and China.

Gaddafi's fate is likely to depend on the position of the armed forces. Will they refuse to obey orders, or even cross lines and join the demonstrators? It's too early to say, but resignations such as al-Jeleil's add to the pressure for "restraint". It is the army that will determine whether this is Libya's 1956 or its 1989.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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New Digital Editor: Serena Kutchinsky

The New Statesman appoints Serena Kutchinsky as Digital Editor.

Serena Kutchinsky is to join the New Statesman as digital editor in September. She will lead the expansion of the New Statesman across a variety of digital platforms.

Serena has over a decade of experience working in digital media and is currently the digital editor of Newsweek Europe. Since she joined the title, traffic to the website has increased by almost 250 per cent. Previously, Serena was the digital editor of Prospect magazine and also the assistant digital editor of the Sunday Times - part of the team which launched the Sunday Times website and tablet editions.

Jason Cowley, New Statesman editor, said: “Serena joins us at a great time for the New Statesman, and, building on the excellent work of recent years, she has just the skills and experience we need to help lead the next stage of our expansion as a print-digital hybrid.”

Serena Kutchinsky said: “I am delighted to be joining the New Statesman team and to have the opportunity to drive forward its digital strategy. The website is already established as the home of free-thinking journalism online in the UK and I look forward to leading our expansion and growing the global readership of this historic title.

In June, the New Statesman website recorded record traffic figures when more than four million unique users read more than 27 million pages. The circulation of the weekly magazine is growing steadily and now stands at 33,400, the highest it has been since the early 1980s.