After two ministries were surrounded by armed protesters within a week, Libya's defense minister has resigned. He had served under former dictator Gadhafi - a fact that was also set to cost him his job.
Mohammed al-Bargathi's resignation on Tuesday was not exactly how he would have preferred to address the issue posed by gunmen who have beseiged two government ministries in recent days. They are demanding that no official who served under former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi be allowed to serve in the current government.
Despite a law passed on Sunday that would prohibit former senior Gadhafi officials from holding a government post, the protesters have not abated, which led to al-Bargathi stepping down.
"I will never be able to accept that politics (can) be practiced by the power of weapons," he said. "This is an assault against the democracy I have sworn to protect."
The law is expected to take effect in a month and could have wide-reaching implications for public servants like al-Bargathi, who was an air force commander under Gadhafi.
Many current officials served in Gadhafi posts long before the dictator fell in 2011, yet some were also instrumental in bringing about the revolution that led to his ouster.
Parliamentary spokesman Omar Humeidan has said that a committee will be set up to review how the new law affects current senior officials. It will be composed of judges and rights activists already serving on an "integrity commission" that vetted Cabinet ministers for ties with Gadhafi. That body will be dissolved and the new commission will take on more members, he said.
mz/msh (AFP, Reuters)