Libyan protesters from the city of Bani Walid protest outside the National Congress in Tripoli in October 2012
Libyan protesters from the city of Bani Walid hold slogans during a protest outside the National Congress in Tripoli in October 2012. Libya's national assembly announced Tuesday the ratification of a law governing the organisation of protests that could lead to jail sentences, following a series of security breaches at its premises. © Mahmud Turkia - AFP/File
Libyan protesters from the city of Bani Walid protest outside the National Congress in Tripoli in October 2012
AFP
Last updated: November 13, 2012

Libya ratifies law to govern demonstrations

Libya's national assembly announced Tuesday the ratification of a law governing the organisation of protests that could lead to jail sentences, following a series of security breaches at its premises.

The new law comes at a time when the country's new leaders are struggling to impose order and rein in armed militias which took part in the 2011 conflict that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The spokesman of the General National Congress, Omar Hmeidan, said the law was passed due to the "exceptional circumstances" of the country, which held its first democratic elections in July after a 42-year dictatorship.

He added that the law does not aim to restrict the right to demonstrate, calling it a measure to combat chaos and "organise demonstrations just like in other countries of the world."

The law, according to a copy obtained by AFP, stipulates that organisers must give the authorities 48-hour notice on the place and time of the event.

Offenders are liable to a prison sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to 5,000 Libyan dinars (about $4,000). The sentence could be higher if the demonstrator is armed.

Protesters and gunmen have stormed the assembly on several occasions in past weeks, with some entering as far as the chamber where sessions are held and disrupting a session to vote on a new government.

The security of the site has been of concern for the 200 members of the assembly, with one bloc floating the idea of shifting meetings to the east of the country until safety can be guaranteed.

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