Imed Lamloum, AFP
Last updated: 6 March, 2013

Libyan leader’s car shot at as political tension soars

The car of Libya’s interim leader was shot up as he left a chaotic session of the national assembly, without causing harm, officials said Wednesday, as post-revolutionary tensions soared in the country.

“The car of the General National Congress speaker (Mohammed Megaryef) came under fire as assembly members left in a state of total confusion” on Tuesday night, Interior Minister Ashur Shwayel told a press conference.

The demonstrators were armed, and some of them carried explosives, he said.

The GNC is the highest political authority in Libya — in effect making Megaryef the country’s interim leader.

Dozens of protesters insisting the national assembly adopt a bill banning from politics associates of former dictator Moamer Kadhafi blocked MPs from leaving the meeting, which took place in a southern suburb of Tripoli.

The official news agency LANA, quoting an assembly official, said Megeryef’s car came under heavy gunfire.

It was unclear if the attack was “an assassination bid or a collateral incident,” the official said.

An assembly member, Jomaa al-Sayeh, was caught and beaten up as he tried to flee, as seen in footage posted on the Internet.

The bill is controversial because it could put more than 30 GNC members out of office, including Megeryef and Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, both of who were diplomats in the 1980s before defecting to the opposition.

Proposed in December, the bill which is still being debated, with some members wanting amendments and other wanting its quick passage, would ban from politics all officials of the Kadhafi regime and their associates.

Critics says it is designed to sideline Mahmud Jibril, a former leader of the anti-Kadhafi revolt who heads a liberal coalition of parties that won elections in July 2012 ahead of Islamists.

Earlier on Tuesday, the GNC building was returned to its members after a month-long occupation by former rebels demanding compensation for injuries in the 2011 revolution that ousted Kadhafi, a security official said.

Members opted to meet instead at a secret location to avoid further trouble.

“We weren’t informed of the venue,” said Shwayel to explain the lack of security, while Zeidan said the authorities had decided to keep a low profile to prevent further violence.