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Libya Premier Says Purge Law Will Force Cabinet Shuffle

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zaidan
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zaidan said, “For sure there will be a cabinet reshuffling.” Photographer: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zaidan said a purge of Muammar Qaddafi-era officials will force a Cabinet reshuffle and delay efforts to rebuild the country.

“For sure there will be a cabinet reshuffling,” Zaidan said during a news conference in Tripoli late yesterday. “This will delay the implementation of projects,” he said, noting that foreign companies are reluctant to open offices in Libya, while others have left the country.

The so-called Isolation Law, passed by Congress May 5, is set to bar from office people who worked in managerial positions in the government, civil service, diplomatic corps, military, banks, universities, the judiciary and oil industry - if they opposed Qaddafi before or during uprising - for a minimum of 10 years. The 200-member General National Congress may see 30 members expelled.

Gunmen continued their blockade of the foreign and justice ministries today, saying they’ll stay in place to ensure the Isolation Law is implemented by a June 5 deadline and some said they are also now seeking the resignation of Zaidan. Their presence before and during the vote on the bill has led to concern militias are using force to drive political change.

Two years after Qaddafi’s removal, Libya’s lacks a new constitution and permanent government to usher in administrative and systemic reforms. Growing frustration with the slow pace of change has led to strikes and demonstrations as militias refuse to disarm and radical Islamists rise in the oil-producing east.

Court Protests

Courts in eastern Libya and Zawiya in the west halted activities in protest over the siege of the justice ministry, the state-run LANA news agency said, citing a statement.

France, the U.K. and U.S., which led Western military action against Qaddafi in 2011, called on Libyans to refrain from armed protest and violence during the transition in a statement issued before Zaidan, a Qaddafi-era diplomat, spoke.

“The democratically elected representatives and leaders of the Libyan people must be able to carry out their duties and move forward with the constitution motivated by their responsibility to the Libyans who elected them rather than by the threat of force,” the countries said.

Supporters and opponents of the Isolation Law clashed in central Tripoli on April 30 and May 2-4, though no casualties were reported.

Visit Delayed

A visit to Libya by delegation of British businessmen from the Libyan British Business Council led by former U.K. ambassador to Libya Dominic Asquith has been delayed, the group’s spokesman said shortly before Zaidan spoke yesterday. Asquith was the target of a rocket attack in Benghazi in June, three months before U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an attack in the city.

Heavily armed militiamen blockaded the foreign and interior ministries April 28, demanding parliament pass the Isolation Law. The siege was lifted as Libya’s parliament backed the bill. Gun extended their blockade to other ministries the next day.

The Political Positions Standards Implementation Authority will meet to decide who is affected by the new legislation. Qaddafi ruled from 1969 to 2011.

Half a million people may lose their jobs as a result of the purge, which will “destroy governing structures,” Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the National Forces Alliance, Libya’s biggest political party, who may himself be barred, said yesterday.

Several civil society groups called on citizens to join a demonstration in central Tripoli tomorrow, demanding the “implementation of the state of law and institutions.”

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