Mohammed Magarief resigned as the head of the Libyan National Assembly after the passage of a "political isolation" law that bans anyone from senior positions in the Libyan government if they held a senior post in Gaddafi's government.
In a speech to congress on TV, Magarief said: "The people's representatives have expressed their word - the political isolation law - and it must be respected. I place my resignation in your hands. I leave with my head held high and my conscious clear." The "isolation law" was adopted on May 5 under pressure of armed groups who surrounded several government ministries. Many analysts fear that giving in to pressure will only encourage armed groups to mount more actions to press their agenda. The new law comes into effect on June 5.
The new law does not make allowance for the role that former Gaddafi officials may have played in overthrowing the Gaddafi regime. Many analysts worry that the law will make an already weak government even weaker as experienced politicians and technocrats are barred from the government. Magarief is a case in point. He served as an ambassador to India under the Gaddafi regime. However, he joined the opposition and lived in exile for 31 years. After the July elections last year, Magarief was elected head of the GNC (General National Congress) in August. During much of his exile he was part of an opposition group that tried to overthrow Gaddafi, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya.
Armed groups and protesters have several times disrupted the work of the GNC. Magarief himself has come under personal attack. Magarief received a standing ovation from congress members. The law may apply to about 10 per cent of the Congress members or 20 people.
Member of congress Mohammed Amari said: "We hope that all those who are affected by this law will follow what he has done." Magarief's first deputy would serve as acting president of the congress until elections are held for a new president.
The Interior Minister. Ashur Shwayel. resigned his post and the Congress appointed a new minister. Shwayel held several senior security positions in the Gaddafi government, serving in the eastern city of Benghazi. Defence Minister Mohamed al-Barghathi also resigned two days after the passing of the law but on the urging of the prime minister rescinded his decision. Barghathi was at one time a commander in the Gaddafi army. No doubt he may eventually be forced out when the isolation law comes into effect.