30 April 2013

Libya: UN Urges Political Dialogue As Gunmen Overtake Ministries and Other State Institutions

Photo: Hamza Turkia/Xinhua
Gunmen block a street near Libya's Ministry of Justice with military trucks in Tripoli (file photo).

The United Nations mission in Libya today said it is following the latest developments in the country where armed gunmen have overtaken the ministries of justice and foreign affairs, and other State institutions, and urged all Libyans to join the country's democratic transition.

In a statement from the capital, Tripoli, the UN Support Mission there (UNSMIL) said it stresses the basic right of all Libyans to express their demands by peaceful means but "underlines the need for all to abide by the principles and goals of the Libyan revolution, in which the revolutionaries played a historic and decisive role and paid dearly to achieve it."

"These principles revolve around the building of a modern and strong state based on democracy, rule of law and human rights," the Mission added.

Dozens of armed men occupied the Libyan Justice Ministry earlier today, according to media reports, forcing ministry staff to leave.

Meanwhile, the country's Foreign Ministry remains under siege for a third day. Protesters have told journalists that they want to push the General National Congress - Libya's highest legislative authority - to pass a proposed law that would ban Muammar al-Qadhafi-era officials from holding Government posts.

Mr. Al-Qadhafi was overthrown in 2011 after decades of autocratic rule. Since then, UNSMIL has been assisting the country's transition toward a modern democratic State.

"UNSMIL urges all Libyans to adhere to constructive dialogue to resolve their differences in accordance with the principles of democracy as the way forward to achieving the goals of the revolution," according to the statement.

The UN Mission also urges all Libyans, "including the revolutionaries who were instrumental in liberating the people from dictatorship, to join efforts at this critical stage of their country's democratic transition to build the State and support its elected bodies and legitimate institutions."

The Mission also stressed the need for all to create a conducive environment for these institutions to be able to carry out the duties entrusted to them by the people and to ensure that their authority, the integrity and credibility of their decisions are respected, the statement noted.

Last month, protesters overran the General National Congress and attempted an attack on its president, leading to condemnations from Tarek Mitri, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and UNSMIL head.

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