Tripoli, 21 March 2013:
For two consecutive evenings, on 19 and 20 March, protesters gathered outside the Prime Minister’s office demanding that the controversial Political Isolation Law be passed and Ali Zeidan be sacked.
On the first night, over 30 men, repeatedly shouted for the blood of the martyrs not to be taken in vain and for Zeidan to go, all while the national anthem was playing.
According to a source at the Prime Minister’s office, the group was not violent and was unarmed but sprayed insulting graffiti on the outside walls of the building. The small but insistent crowd did not leave until a member of Zeidan’s team came out to speak to them. The protesters informed him that they were offended by recent remarks allegedly made by the Prime Minister.
The statements, which the source said were untrue and a misunderstanding fueled by social media rumors, centred on bringing NATO back to protect Libya against militias.
One unhappy neighbour said all the protestors did was cause a “disturbance” and write “a lot of misspelled graffiti”.
On the second night, the 30-strong crowd returned with loud speakers and fresh spray paint canisters.
According to a witness, roughly one hour into protesting, around 10 cars carrying more demonsators arrived. This caused a traffic jam as many had double parked and some even drove across the street barrier to gain quicker access to the protests on the opposite side of the road.
The Prime Minister’s Office has been more heavily guarded this past week, after reports that 200 vehicles travelling in a convoy from Misrata, had headed to Tripoli with the aim of forcibly removing Zeidan. It has been reported that the convoy was stopped in Tajoura where participants were persuaded that it was up to Congress to decide who should be prime minister, not a group of individuals, and that they should take their complaints there.
It is not clear if those protesting in front of the PM’s office were involved in the convoy.
Despite these protests, there is an overwhelming feeling that Zeidan’s government, which has now been in office for just over 100 days, is performing at a better pace than its predecessor. The recent clampdown on illegal street stalls, gangs and militias, shows a government willing to make difficult decisions.
Some claim that the disbanding of fringe militias is the main reason why protestors are calling for Zeidan to step down. [/restrict]