By Umar Khan.
Tripoli, 30 April 2013:
Around a thousand people demonstrated at the General National Congress (GNC) building today, in support of . . .[restrict]the Political Isolation Law.
Today’s GNC session was suspended ahead of the planned demonstration and the demonstrators were free to enter through the gates into the grounds of the GNC conference hall.
Coordinators of the demonstration made a number of speeches asking for a quick vote on the Political Isolation Law.
The GNC is set to decide on the controversial law, which would stop Qaddafi-era officials from holding any high-level post, on Sunday.
The demonstrators had gathered in Martyrs’ Square at noon before leaving in a procession to the GNC. They carried empty coffins bearing pictures of martyrs of the revolution to symbolise the sacrifices made by them. Shouts of: “The blood of martyrs will not go in vain” could be heard. The demonstrators were all unarmed and no ‘technicals’ – vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns – accompanied the demonstration. The only security present were the guards securing the GNC building itself.
Leader of the Ummah al Wasat Party and a central figure of the Political Isolation Law movement, Saami Al Saadi, told the gathered crowd that the revolution was not only against Qaddafi but the whole corrupt system. Those involved with the old regime could not be allowed to continue in the Free Libya, he said.
Al Saadi emphasised that the demonstration should be kept peaceful and he said he did not support the use of violence and guns to surround ministries. He added, however, that he could understand the feelings of the revolutionaries surrounding the Foreign Affairs Ministry, because remnants of the old regime hold posts in the new Libya.
A PhD student who was demonstrating in support of the isolation law, Osman Fezani, said that passing the proposed law was very important for the country to move forward. “Those who ruined Libya for decades should be asked to step aside now,” he said, “they spoiled the country as much as they could and it is time they were shown the door.”
Another demonstrator, Abdul Wahab Al Treysi, said that the Political Isolation Law would not marginalise those affected. “They can pray with us in the same line but we cannot allow them to lead the prayer,” he said. “After the revolution in France, the ruling people were all killed whereas we only want to separate them from the government so the country can actually make some progress”.
Another demonstration is planned for Sunday, the day the GNC is scheduled to vote on the legislation. Demonstrators will apparently demand that details of the ballot be made public and one speaker said: “The people of Libya should know who voted in favour of the law and who opposed it.” [/restrict]