TRIPOLI, Libya – Under pressure from armed militias, Libya’s parliament passed a sweeping law Sunday that bans anyone who served as a senior official under Moammar Gadhafi during his 42-year-long rule from working in government.
The Political Isolation Law could lead to the dismissal of many current leaders, some of whom had defected to the rebel side during the country’s 2011 civil war or had been elected to office since Gadhafi’s ouster and killing. The move is likely to further stall the country’s already-rocky transition to democracy by ousting elected lawmakers.
It injects a new dose of uncertainty into Libyan politics during a still-fragile transition. Liberals say it will give a boost to Islamists, who performed poorly in recent elections compared to their counterparts in other Arab states, although Islamists said they could also be affected by the ban.
The law was partially driven by the unpopularity of Libya’s current crop of politicians among many of the still-powerful former rebels who toppled Gadhafi and others who say little has improved since. Backers of the law say it is necessary to complete the revolution.
But critics say that the law was passed at gunpoint. Militias had surrounded several government buildings in Tripoli last week barring officials from work. Their vehicles mounted with rocket-propelled grenades kept watch on the street during the vote.