Libyan congress temporarily suspends sessions over security

Reuters News

3/10/2013 2:51:10 PM - Reuters News

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's General National Congress has temporarily suspended its sessions due to security concerns after a violent protest that left its members barricaded in a meeting room for several hours and a gun attack on its leader's car.

The congress had been due to hold a session on Sunday but congress leader Mohammed Magarief said that meeting as well as Tuesday's would be canceled. He said the lack of a secure meeting hall was also one of the reasons for the suspension.

"We will not meet under pressure or while being threatened," Magarief told a news conference late on Saturday. He did not say whether the suspension would last beyond Tuesday.

Gunmen in a crowd of Libyans demanding that lawmakers pass a bill barring former associates of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi from power shot at Magarief's car last Tuesday.

Magarief was driving away from a building on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli where lawmakers had gathered to vote on the bill when the unknown assailants shot at his car.

Protesters had stopped him and about 100 congress members from leaving for several hours.

Congress members were forced to move from their headquarters in February when it was occupied by wounded former rebel fighters demanding compensation for injuries sustained in the 2011 war.

The group of about 30 left the building on Tuesday but damage still remains in the hall. Magarief said it needed some repair work before members could meet there again.

Insecurity persists in Libya, and politicians, state buildings and oil installations have become a focal point of protests as the government struggles to impose order on a vast and divided country awash with weapons.

Last week, unknown assailants stormed the building of the private al-Assema television station in Tripoli, abducting its owner and other staff members. They were eventually released within 24 hours.

(Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Alison Williams)