By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 8 August 2014:
Protests were held today after the early evening Asr prayers in a number of cities in . . .[restrict]Libya, for and against the House of Representatives (HoR) meeting in Tobruk as opposed to Benghazi.
The large demonstration in Misrata said that the HoR was acting illegitimately and unconstitutionally by holding its first session in Tobruk, rather than in Tripoli, and thereafter convening in Tobruk as opposed to in Benghazi, as prescribed by the amendments to the Transitional Constitutional Declaration.
Various speakers at the Misrata demonstration insisted that the thuwar (revolutionary fighters) will not allow the 17 February revolution to be hijacked and will continue to defend it, and implied that by holding the handover session and subsequent sessions in Tobruk, the HoR was going against the 17 February revolution.
Whilst not calling the 25 June 2014 HoR elections or their results illegitimate, the anti “HoR in Tobruk” demonstration in Misrata implied that it was the thuwar that were the true expression and guardians of the 17 February revolution – rather than the free and fair democratic elections that chose the members of the HoR.
The demonstrators in Tripoli, meanwhile, expressed their full support and recognition of the legitimacy of the HoR and the fact that it chose to first meet and continues to meet in Tobruk – rather than Tripoli or Benghazi.
Furthermore, in the Fashloum area of Tripoli, it has been reported that the pro-Islamist Shield Forces opened fire on unarmed civilian demonstrators who were in support of the HoR being in Tobruk, causing the demonstrators to disperse.
The Fashloum demonstrators called for the implementation of Laws (27) and (53) of 2013, which prescribe that all militias disarm, leave the borders of large cities and reintegrate into the official army and police using the National ID Number as individuals – not as intact militias. They called for an end to the fighting and destruction in Tripoli and they too vowed to defend the 17 February revolution.
In Zintan, the main protagonist of the Misrata-led Islamist forces in the battle in Tripoli, unsurprisingly, there was a large demonstration in support of the HoR, recognizing its full legitimacy and its right to convene in Tobruk.
It will be recalled that there was a political tug of war between the outgoing Libyan legislature, the General National Congress (GNC) and the newly elected HoR as to the timing and place of the official handover.
No less than 158 Representatives, or 84 percent, of the newly democratically elected HoR had voted with their feet by making the difficult journey from all over Libya to Tobruk, which is on the north eastern edge of Libya near the Egyptian border. Another five members joined later.
However, the remaining 25 Representatives, considered by most media political commentators as representing the Islamists, refused to turn up and take the constitutional oath.
Moreover, they have initiated a media campaign to declare the HoR as unconstitutional, and there are in fact, unconfirmed reports that they have sought a ruling from the Constitutional court to declare the HoR sitting in Tobruk unconstitutional. [/restrict]