Libya militias pull guns from ministries, press protest

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Libyan militiamen withdrew their machinegun mounted pick-up trucks from outside two ministries on Wednesday, but pressed their protests for more concessions from the government, an AFP journalist reported.

They had surrounded the foreign ministry on April 28 and the justice ministry two days later to demand a law barring former officials from the ousted regime of Moamer Qaddafi from government posts.

The law was passed by the general National Congress on Sunday.

But protesters in military uniform were still outside the foreign and justice ministries after the pullback on Wednesday.

The move came the day after residents of the area around the foreign ministry in central Tripoli organized a protest in front of the building against the presence of weapons in their area.

“We want to cleanse the foreign and justice ministries in Libya. There are no more weapons. From now on, it will be a peaceful protest,” said Mohamed Soula, who had come from the western town of Sabratha, one of the protesters and said he had fought to oust Qaddafi.

Among the demands are calls for the resignation of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who served under Qaddafi for several years before going over to the revolution 2011.

The U.S., French and British embassies in Tripoli issued a joint statement on Wednesday calling on “all Libyans to refrain from armed protest and violence during this difficult time in the democratic transition.”

“It is vital that the country's institutions operate free from armed intimidation,” the statement added.

“The international community is observing the country with concern during this critical time in the transition,” the embassies noted, urging Libyans to support their democratically elected leaders.

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