By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 02 July 2014
The Foreign Ministry in Tripoli is said to be in disarray after an armed group . . .[restrict]took it over last Thursday, ordering staff to go home. The group left at the end of the day, but the ministry is still now “a mess”, according to a senior ministry official. Top staff are staying away out of fear they will be attacked, he says.
It was initially reported that the gunmen were from the Libya Revolutionary Operations Room (LROR) and that their objective was to defend the Political Isolation Law. On Thursday, the nearby Supreme Court was due to deliver a decision on the constitutional validity of the law. In the event it decided to postpone its decision because of the threat from protestors outside the building.
A letter, ostensibly from the LROR, was published on social media claiming that they had taken over the ministry. The letter demanded that the minister, Mohamed Abdulaziz, be sacked and that the Isolation Law be fully implemented throughout the ministry.
However, the LROR has since called the letter a fake and denied occupying the ministry.
“I don’t know if these people belonged to the Revolutionary Operations Room or not, but when I came to work on Thursday morning I found armed people closing all the front doors of the building. I returned home, as did my colleagues,” Foreign Ministry official Alaa Kawan told the Libya Herald.
It appears that there may have been a power struggle within the ministry. “I was told these armed people are supporters of the assistant deputy of financial affairs at the ministry, Ahmeda Al-Majri, who had a problem with the minister which led to the latter firing him,” another official said.
There were already problems in the Foreign Ministry prior to Thursday’s incident. Abdulaziz has been working out of Cairo for the past few weeks after threats to him and his family. Deputy ministers, too, have been noticeable by their absence.
Diplomats report not being able to contact officials, with phone calls unanswered or phones switched off or out of coverage. When they do get through, they say, officials respond that they do not know what is happening. [/restrict]