By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 19 February 2014:
Life continued in Tripoli as normal today as leaders from across the political landscape . . .[restrict]and revolutionaries alike today lined up to support the General National Congress after yesterday’s ultimatum to its members from the Qaaqaa and Sawaiq brigades to resign within five hours or be arrested.
The Libyan Revolutionaries’ Council set the ball rolling with a statement in Zliten last night announcing a state of alert and calling on all revolutionaries and military units to be ready in case of an attack. It said that Congress was the only body with legitimacy until a successor body was elected. Power had to be transferred peacefully and orderly, and in accordance with the ballot box.
In a lengthy statement calling for calm, the Prime Minister said that the government rejected any use of force to compel Congress to resign. He said that he had been contacted by several foreign political leaders, including Egypt’s Field Marshal Sisi, the Prime Minister of Qatar, the French Foreign Minister, to find out what was happening and assure him of their support for the country and its transition.
In a later statement, the government said the situation was now calm and that all parties agreed that dialogue was necessary and that they had to refrain from any action that could lead to bloodshed.
Also condemning the ultimatum, the leader of the National Forces Alliance, Mahmoud Jibril, who has in the past been linked to Qaaqaa, denied claims it that was the NFA’s military wing. The alliance did not have any military wings at all, he said. As a political organisation, it did not believe in military action. If it did, and had a military wing, he said, it would have prevented the passing of the political isolation law last year.
It was, however, important to remain in dialogue with the two brigades that had threatened the Congress in order to calm the situation, he said.
Meanwhile, local councils in Tripoli, Benghazi, Misrata, Gharyan and Bani Walid, among others, condemned the threats by the Qaqaa and Sawaiq brigades, with one of them describing them as “a military coup against the Libyans’ will”.
The ultimatum appears to have had the effect of easing the pressure on GNC members to announce the election of a new second interim Congress, although how long this lasts remains to be seen. [/restrict]