Tripoli, 5 May 2013:
Political parties and blocks in the General National Congress were still discussing the Political Isolation Law early this . . .[restrict]afternoon.
The law, which would disbar officials from the Qaddafi regime from leading government and state appointments, is the first main item on Congress’ agenda today and is supposed to be put to a vote. However it is not yet certain it will be voted on. Various groups in Congress are in effect demanding amendments which would radically alter the the law.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Peace Party said this morning that they support the law unamended. They want anyone who worked with the regime from the date of Qaddfi’s 1969 coup to be disbarred. At present, the rules are that anyone who joined the revolution before 19 March 2011 cannot be disbarred by the Integrity Commission which currently has the job of investigating and ruling against former regime officials.
The National Front Party, whose most important member, Congress President Mohamed Magarief, could be disbarred if and when the law becomes effective, wants it amended so that, in the case of GNC members, it comes into effect only after a new constitution is approved.
The National Forces Alliance led by Mahmoud Jibril, which is basically opposed to the law, says that it will vote on it only if the militias end the government ministry sieges. Last week Jibril also said that if Congress were intimidated into voting for the law as a result of force by the militias, it would withdraw its members.
Significant numbers of militiamen have come to Tripoli in the past couple of days in support of the law and to back those other militiamen who have been laying siege to a number of government ministries for the past week. Numbers vary according to who is speaking. Supporters of the law talk of many hundreds of armed vehicles in the capital. Others say that there are far less and that it is the same militiamen moving from place to place.
Today outside the Foreign Ministry, the first to be surrounded last Sunday, all the armoured vehicles had been withdrawn, although some were still behind the gates. “Everything is peaceful here. The guns are here to protect the ministry,” said one militiamen who claimed that ministry employees were free to come and work if they wanted but that they had decided to boycott the place.
There remains a heavy militia presence at the Justice Ministry.
Elsewhere, despite reports of armoured vehicles massing in the capital and that offices and shops would be shut, life continued as normal. Shops were open and cafes and restaurants were operating as usual. So were the traffic jams.
If Congress does not approve the law today, the militias have threatened to march on it and bring it down, although they say they will do so unarmed.
Ironically the presence of armed units has appeared to stiffen resolve among some Congress members not to vote for the law in present circumstances.
Meanwhile supporters of the law are planning to take a procession of coffins symbolising those who died for the revolution from Martyrs Square to Congress. The same happened on Tuesday