By Umar Khan.
Tripoli, 6 May 2013:
Having tasted victory with the passing of the Political Isolation Law, militiamen who have been blockading ministries and protesting in favour of it for the last week are now concentrating on trying to remove Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from office.
The Political Isolation Law was passed yesterday by the General National Congress (GNC) after days of intense negotiations between different blocs within the GNC. Congress members voted overwhelmingly in favour of the final draft, which bars former regime figures from holding any leadership positions in state bodies and organisations for the next ten years.
Its approval was hailed by Wesam Bin Hameed, the chairman of Supreme Revolutionaries Committee (SRC), as “an excellent moment in our revolution”. The SRC comprises 280 members from brigades all over Libya.
However, a member of the committee that has been coordinating the sieges of the ministries to pressurise Congress into approving the law announced that only 70 percent of the demands had been met with its passing.
Executive officer of the SRC, Muhammed Shaaban, told the Libya Herald that the militiamen would only leave the ministries when Zeidan leaves office. “We will not leave the ministries until he [Zeidan] leaves or if the GNC assures us that he will leave within a month, as per the isolation law.”
He added that the GNC was given two demands by the militiamen. “We are protesting about the inclusion of Qaddafi remnants in the new system that is stopping Libya from progress. We only had two demands; one has been completed and now they only have to remove Zeidan.”
The removal of Zeidan’s government was one of the demands of the revolutionaries’ in their negotiations with it last week, but the main focus then was on the Political isolation Law.
Bin Hameed confirmed to the Libya Herald that negotiations had been taking place with government but there had been no breakthrough. “We told them [the government] we don’t want to negotiate. Prime Minister Zeidan has lost trust and we will not accept him. Our negotiations have broken down because this is our only demand.”
Yesterday an estimated three thousand demonstrators were present in Martyrs Square as the voting took place. They later marched towards the GNC building, four kilometres away. Protestors were carrying coffins with pictures of those who died for the revolution and shouted “The martyrs blood will not go in vain”. The numbers increased significantly en route to the GNC reaching around six thousand including 200 women and children.
The demonstrators then went back to Martyrs Square to celebrate the decision on isolation law where sweets were being distributed by the organisers.
There were calls by many the protestors for Zeidan to step down. Some believed, erroneously that the Isolation law would oblige him to do so. But not all those celebrating the Isolation Law wanted him to go. When a vehicle with anti-Zeidan stickers drove alongside the march, one demonstrator said: “I thought we were only here for the Political Isolation Law.”