Libya gunmen surround justice ministry in Tripoli


Libyan gunmen surround the Libyan Justice Ministry demanding a ban against those who worked under the former regime of ousted leader Gaddafi from holding senior positions on April 30, 2013, in the capital Tripoli. Gunmen have said their siege of the ministries would be lifted when their demands are met by a vote in the General National Congress — Libya's highest political authority — on a bill calling for the expulsion of former regime employees.



The offices of Libya's justice ministry in Tripoli have been surrounded by gunmen demanding that officials who worked for the government during the Gaddafi era be removed.

Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani said 20 to 30 armed men in military fatigues arrived in trucks with anti-aircraft guns mounted on them. The government official tried to talk to them before he had to flee.

The attack comes as Libya's foreign ministry remains under siege, blocked off by gunmen since Sunday.

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"Unlawful armed groups that show up with heavy weapons and block access to government institutions, demanding grievance, crosses the line of peaceful protest; it is intimidating and threatening and there should be accountability for these actions," Hanan Salah, the Libya researcher for Human Rights Watch, told CNN.

Armed groups have been calling for a political isolation law to be passed, which would ban officials who served under late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi from senior government positions. Libya, however, has been unable to agree to the terms of the law.

The General National Congress has postponed its next sitting to Sunday from Tuesday due to the unrest. A spokesman for the congress said the additional time would allow them to study the proposed legislation protesters were demanding.

If passed, the law could have several long-serving ministers removed, as well as the congress leader, depending on how the legislation is worded.