First Published: 2012-11-02

 

Angry gunmen besiege Libya assembly

 

Gunmen backed by heavy weapons vent their frustration at new PM's cabinet lineup, alleged links of some ministers to Gathafi's regime.

 

Middle East Online

By Dominique Soguel - TRIPOLI

Fledgling democracy

Nearly 100 Libyan gunmen backed by heavy weapons kept the national assembly under siege Thursday in protest at the new premier's cabinet lineup and alleged links of some ministers to Moamer Gathafi's regime.

The protest which erupted on Wednesday night has drawn dozens of former rebels from Tripoli and other cities, some of them formally affiliated with the defence and interior ministries.

"What is happening and the scale of what is going on is very grave," said Othman Ben Sassi, an official linked to the national assembly, which was not in session on Thursday.

He said ex-rebels were occupying the assembly and other official buildings.

Traffic leading to the assembly and the adjacent Rixos hotel was blocked by a dozen 4x4 vehicles and pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns among other heavy weapons, said an AFP journalist at the scene.

"We are demonstrating against the national assembly and its chosen government because it is made up of remnants of Moamer Gathafi's regime," said Abdel Jalil Maziq, 42, a native of the western city of Misrata.

"The world helped us overthrow the tyrant and now here we are stuck with remnants of his regime," he added.

The complaints centred on members of the new prime minister's cabinet, which was approved by the assembly on Wednesday in a session that was cut short by the protests and mounting security concerns.

The main ministers to have sparked controversy are those of health, foreign affairs, international cooperation, higher education and religious affairs.

"These five are the most problematic," said rights activist Abdelmenam al-Hor, stressing they had played a role in upholding the former regime and should be removed.

Others said nine ministries were in dispute, including the strategic portfolio of oil.

Activists Bashir Rajab said he had come armed with a formal letter of complaint because "people who were with Kadhafi and participated in promoting his green book (manifesto) need to be isolated from the political process."

Tempers flew high with some fighters threatening and shoving the press.

An old woman pleaded: "Please calm down, we want the country to move on."

Many of the gunmen redirecting traffic away from the assembly also complained there were no former rebels in the new government and that their salaries had not been paid.

"It's been seven months since I was paid. These people are stealing our money," charged the commander of a brigade from Misrata who declined to be named.

Gunmen were also present at the luxury Rixos hotel, streaming in casually and passing their pistols through the metal detectors. Some of them, dressed in suits, said they had come to negotiate and submit their demands.

"There are about 20 revolutionaries meeting with the prime minister to discuss their objections," said Colonel Jumaa al-Meshri of a Tripoli-based brigade.

The spokesman of the assembly could not be reached for comment but a security official said there had been "no orders" from the authorities to intervene until now.

Libya's national assembly gave its approval on Wednesday to a 30-member cabinet presented by prime minister-designate Ali Zeidan, weeks after rejecting his predecessor's line-up.

The prime minister and his cabinet still have to be sworn in.

Protesters who barged into the assembly on Tuesday derailed a first session on the cabinet, which was hastily approved in a Wednesday vote-of-confidence as demonstrations erupted outside the building.

The demonstrations coupled with the lack of discipline of former rebels nominally under the state's control underline the fragility of Libya's transition to democracy a year after Gathafi was overthrown.

 

Air strikes kill 150 militants fleeing Fallujah

UN envoy seeks Syria peace talks’ resumption in July

41 killed in Istanbul airport bomb, gun attacks

EU agrees to opens new chapter with Turkey on accession talks

Egypt becoming departure country for migrants to Europe

US Navy probe finds leadership failings in Iran capture

Quartet report says Israel must urgently halt illegal settlement expansion

At least 70 killed in northern Aleppo clashes

Sisi praises Egyptian 'revolution' against Morsi

US-backed Syria rebels look to cut off ISIS from Iraq border

Egyptian Coptic priest shot dead in El-Arish

Iran sacks heads of four state banks over high pay

Detained RSF Turkey representative released

Lebanese army says ISIS attacks foiled, 5 arrested

UN extends Darfur mission despite Sudan opposition

Turkey detains 13 over airport attack

Palestinian killed by Israeli troops after deadly attack

Tunisian killed in Istanbul attack seeking to repatriate IS-linked son

Turkish forces kill 2 suspected IS jihadists at Syria border

Egypt president urges religious reforms to counter extremists

First aid convoy since 2012 enters two besieged Syria towns

Race to succeed Cameron begins after stunning Brexit vote

Yemen peace talks to take two-week break

Iraq secures $2.7 billion US military loan

ISIS pushes back Syria rebel offensive on Iraq route

Israel cabinet approves Turkey reconciliation deal

Turkey airport attack slams limping tourism industry

Putin lifts Turkey travel restrictions, orders trade 'normalised'

Fears for stranded Syrian refugees as Jordan blocks access

Bahrain activist back in jail despite worsening health

Witnesses recount Istanbul attack

Car bomb kills 10 in Kurdish-held Syria town

Ban to Israeli PM: Gaza blockade ‘collective punishment’

Alstom-led consortium awarded $2.88 billion Dubai metro extension

Democratic hopes fade away in Egypt

US-backed Syria rebels advance on key IS link to Iraq

Israel revokes controversial 'Hannibal Directive'

Detained Bahraini activist hospitalised

UN chief urges Netanyahu to make tough choices

Saudi Aramco, SABIC in joint petrochemicals study

Yemen clashes, air strikes kill 37 civilians

Egypt's anti-graft tsar becomes public enemy number one

Iraqis shun return to 'cursed' Fallujah

Lebanese army raids refugee camps after bombings

Ankara goes back on compensation offer for downed Russia jet