Head of Libya’s top political body resigns over former role

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Libya’s parliament chief, Mohamed Al-Megaryef, resigned from his post on Tuesday following the passing of a law banning anyone who held a senior post in Muammar Qaddafi’s regime from government.

In a televised speech to congress, Megaryef announced his resignation - which had been expected - after the passing of the “political isolation” law, which critics and diplomats fear could strip government of experienced leaders, further complicating the transition to an orderly democracy.

"The people’s representatives have expressed their word -the political isolation law - and it must be respected,” Reuters quoted him as saying. “And I will be the first ... I place my resignation in your hands.”

Megaryef said that “everyone must obey the law out of respect for legality and democracy.”

The banned official was Libya’s ambassador to India in the 1980s under the regime of now slain dictator Qaddafi before he defected to become a leader of the exiled opposition for three decades.

“I leave with my head held high and my conscious clear,” AFP quoted him as saying. He stressed that he was the first of Qaddafi-era officials to conform to the law.

The General National Congress passed the law on May 5 under pressure from gunmen who had surrounded the foreign and justice ministries for several days to press the government to sack officials linked to Qaddafi.

Megaryef eyes welled up as he spoke before the General National Congress in Tripoli.

He decried what he described as the empowerment of some lawmakers backed by gunmen and warned of the need to eradicate Qaddafi-era schemes, including “revenge, antagonism ... and hatred” that still plague Libya, the Associated Press reported.

Magaryef received a standing ovation from congress members after he ended his speech, which touched on his own exile and opposition to Gaddafi and which paid tribute to the former rebel fighters who ousted the dictator.

Britain-educated economist

A Britain-educated economist, he was born in 1940 in the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of the uprising that toppled Qaddafi.

He spent 31 years in exile, including 20 years as a political refugee in the United States. Along with other dissidents, he founded an opposition group that had tried to overthrow Qaddafi.

During his exile he was hunted by Qaddafi’s intelligence services, who had launched a campaign in 1980 to liquidate his opponents.

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