By Sami Zaptia.
London, 25 March 2019:
The Tripoli-based Ministry of Interior (MoI) temporarily suspended the right to demonstrations on Saturday due to ‘‘security conditions’’.
The MoI recognized Libyans’ constitutional right to peaceful demonstrations under General National Congress Law No. 65 of 2012 as long as this does not impede the functioning of public utilities. The law also prescribes that the public authorities shall protect the demonstrations and provide assistance to them within the limits of the rules and regulations established by the applicable laws.
The MoI reminds that the law also prescribes that demonstrations require the taking of prior authorization from the competent security authorities (the MoI).
The MoI said, however, that in view of the ”current security conditions” in Libya, and ”the threats to carry out acts of sabotage” and ”fearing that those of sick souls will take advantage by exploiting demonstrations and pickets by carrying out sabotage and riots’’, it has issued instructions to regional Security Directorates to ”suspend the granting of licences to hold demonstrations and sit-ins temporarily until the reasons for the security outlook have ceased”.
The MoI did not elaborate on these reasons but on Friday there was a pro Khalifa Hafter demonstration in the western city of Surman. It is the first real open demonstration supporting and calling for Hafter to enter the western region.
It will be recalled that Hafter and his Libyan National Army (LNA) have openly threatened and warned that they will soon ‘‘liberate’’ Tripoli. After their recent ‘‘liberation and securing’’ of Libya’s south they have carried out manoeuvres off the southern edges of Sirte and Tripoli.
Also on Friday, suspect packages were found at the Post Office headquarters in Zawia Road, Tripoli, which led to the MoI raising its security status. The suspected explosive package turned out to be a false alarm. The U.S. had also warned of a possible terror attack in Tripoli.
On Saturday, a demonstration was held in Algeria Square, opposite Tripoli Council calling for the release of Abdalla Senusi Qaddafi’s brother-in-law and former security chief who is reported to be in poor health.
The Faiez Serraj MoI is clearly fearful that these demonstrations could spiral out of control putting pressure on the Serraj-led Presidency Council and Government of National Accord from both a political and security point of view.