Tripoli, 28 April 2103:
Militiamen from Misrtata, Suq Al-Juma and Tajoura surrounded the ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tripoli’s Shara Al-Shatt this morning, preventing staff from entering the buildings. They also blocked roads around the buildings with “technicals” – vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns.
They said they were doing so in support of the Political Isolation Law which, if approved by Congress, would ban thousands of Qaddafi-era from holding office.
Claiming that staff at Foreign Ministry had continued to work for the Qaddafi regime until 19 August 2011 and that a number of current ambassadors were former regime figures, they demanded a new Minister of Foreign Affairs be appointed to replace Mohamed Abdelaziz and the closure of Libyan embassies in Russia, Serbia and a number of other countries which they say had not supported the revolution.
In a statement listing their demands, they claimed that Abdelaziz had not implemented the GNC’s decision removing all existing Libyan ambassadors abroad appointed by the former Jibril and Kib administrations, that he was giving excuses for not doing so, and that he had extended the terms of office of several of them.
They also alleged that after Ali Al-Aujali had decided at the end of December not to take up the Prime Minister’s offer of the foreign ministry post, Ali Zeidan had arbitrarily appointed International Cooperation Minister Abdelaziz without Congressional approval.
They demanded that the two ministries be formally united and a new minister appointed, that the government comply with the Congress’ demands about removing all ambassadors appointed or confirmed in post by former interim governments and that the present one should annul any appointments by Abdulaziz that had not been endorsed by the Integrity Commission.
Libya should close a number of its embassies in Africa, Europe and Latin America, the statement read, or at least serve them from elsewhere.
Russia and Serbia were the only places where the Thuwar said embassies should be shut. They also said that they should close in all countries that had not backed the revolution until most of the country had been liberated.
When contacted, the Prime Minister’s office said that it had had “hundreds of telephone calls” about the Foreign Ministry siege but had no further information. The Foreign Minister was himself at the Prime Ministry, it said.
There was some confusion among the militiamen outside the Foreign Ministry this morning.
Some told the Libya Herald that they would be heading on to the Congress building and to the Interior Ministry, again in support of the Isolation Law, but did not know when or where they would be going first.
At the beginning of last month, militiamen forced their way into a meeting of Congress and tried to force members into passing the law.