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Libyan parliament seeks to beef up security measures - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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People walk near the wreckage of a car which was set on fire by protesters in front of the General National Congress, a day after protesters stormed into the building in Tripoli March 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny)

People walk near the wreckage of a car which was set on fire by protesters in front of the General National Congress, a day after protesters stormed into the building in Tripoli, on March 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Libya’s transitional government is attempting to put in place new security measures after the country’s interim parliament, the General National Congress (GNC), was stormed by a mob earlier this week.

A number of protesters stormed a parliamentary session on Sunday and attacked a number of MPs in protest against the extension of the term of the current parliament, which ended on February 7. Two MPs were reported to have been wounded by gunfire as they drove away from the scene.

GNC Speaker Nouri Abusahmain ordered an army unit to secure the GNC building on Tuesday, and called on the Defense Ministry and Armed Forces Command to provide all the personnel and equipment necessary for the task.

Abusahmain also held a meeting with ambassadors of the “Friends of Libya” group of states (including the US, UK, France, Italy and EU and UN envoys) and informed them of details of the attack and measures taken to deal with such events.

A statement issued by Abusahmain’s office said the meeting discussed details of the Libya conference, which will be held in Rome on Thursday, to help bring security and stability to the country, as well as developing its security and administrative institutions.

Despite efforts by Libya’s interim government and its international allies, security in Libya remains tenuous, as does the government’s authority over the country’s vital oil industry.

A group armed with light and medium weapons stormed the headquarters of the local government in the Ben Ashour district of Tripoli on Tuesday.

Libyan security sources said armed men, whom they described as “outlaws,” fired a barrage of shots at the building, forcing staff to leave and damaging property.

The sources added that the reason behind the incident was a minor collision involving a staff member’s car with a member of an armed group in the city. The member of the armed group called his friends to attack the building, and security forces tasked with protecting the building did not intervene.

Meanwhile, the National Oil Company (NOC) denied an official government announcement that agreement had been reached to end a sit-in at the El-Sharara Oil Field following a meeting between Libyan Defense Minister Abdullah Al-Thani and protesters who have been occupying the field for a several months, disrupting production.

The government said in a statement that the protesters had agreed to end the sit-in in return for improving security at the field. NOC spokesman Mohammad Al-Harari told Reuters: “We have not been informed so far, [but] we will wait and see if the protests at the field and oil pipeline have ended or not.”

Last month, the NOC closed the field, which produces 340,000 barrels a day, after tribesmen organized a protest at the site in southern Libya.

The Libyan army command refused to intervene and said its troops would not take sides in a political dispute or public protests.

The command issued a statement that said it was opposed to armed action against the legitimate government chosen by the people according to the aims and principles of the February 17 revolution, and stressed its opposition to attacks on all state institutions and the use of political violence of all kinds.

Meanwhile, the Justice and Construction Party, the political wing of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, said the GNC was responding to popular demands for early elections.

The party issued a statement on its Facebook page, which said that any attempt to disrupt the work of the GNC meant a disruption of the early elections that the public wanted, and which in turn disrupted the democratic process.

The party called for adherence to the democratic process and the peaceful transition of power through the ballot box.