Tripoli, 30 April 2013:
Militiamen demanding the Political Isolation Law be passed seized the Justice Ministry today. Armed men in trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns, known as “technicals”, arrived around 10am, blockaded surrounding roads and forced their way into the Ministry buildings in the Falah distict of Tripoli.
An imminent attack on the Ministry had been widely expected following the militiamen’s blockade of the Foreign Ministry on Sunday morning and the Interior Ministry later the same day. Social media sites indicated that it was a potential target.
The militiamen say that they will not quit the premises until Qaddafi-era officials who they claim are working at there are removed.
Yesterday, the militiamen, said to be mainly from all over Libya but mainly from Misrata, also attacked the Ministry of Finance. Offices there were reported to have been trashed and equipment broken or stolen.
The state TV station Al Wataniya, was also attacked on Sunday but again the militiamen did not stay. The Foreign and Interior Ministries, however, are still being blockaded and the men say that they will remain until the Political Isolation Law is passed.
The law, which would ban several thousand Qaddafi era officials from holding office, is due to be debated and voted on by Congress on Sunday.
Today’s attack on the Justice Ministry is the second in exactly a month. On 31 March, members of the Supreme Security Committee running the prison at Metiga airbase forced Marghani and his staff out of the buildings. They objected to his demands that all prisons in Libya be put under the Ministry’s control.
There is reason to suspect that those involved in the current attacks do not constitute a large group. It is estimated that no more than 30 militiamen took part in today’s incident. Moreover, at the Interior Ministry this afternoon, just three “technicals” were seen blockading the complex while at the Foreign Ministry the number had also reduced – suggesting that the same group are spreading their resources to mount their operations against government departments. [/restrict]