Mohamed al-Megaryef prepares to address a ceremony in Benghazi, on February 17, 2013
A photo taken on February 17, 2013 shows Mohamed al-Megaryef -- the president of the Libyan national assembly --as he prepares to address a ceremony in Benghazi. The president of Libya's highest political body will resign on May 28 after a law was passed banning those who served under the ousted regime of late dictator Moamer Kadhafi, an aide told AFP. © Abdullah Doma - AFP/File
Mohamed al-Megaryef prepares to address a ceremony in Benghazi, on February 17, 2013
AFP
Last updated: May 27, 2013

Libyan assembly chief to quit after Kadhafi-era law

The president of Libya's highest political body will resign on Tuesday, three weeks after a law was passed banning those who served under the ousted regime of late dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

On Sunday, meanwhile, the General National Congress, appointed a new interior minister for Libya after Ashur Shwayel resigned, which a source said was also the result of the controversial law approved by the assembly on May 5.

Mohamed al-Megaryef "will on Tuesday evening submit his resignation before members of the General National Congress," the national assembly, one of his advisers told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The members of the General National Congress will elect a new president in the coming days," the adviser said, but without elaborating on the reasons for Megaryef's planned resignation.

Megaryef was Libya's ambassador to India in the 1980s before he defected and joined the opposition in exile.

The state news agency Lana, quoting a statement from Megaryef's office, said he will announce his resignation in a speech on Tuesday evening.

On May 5, the national assembly passed a controversial law banning officials who served under Kadhafi between September 1, 1969 and the fall of his regime in October 2011 from holding any political role.

The law -- which comes into force on June 5 -- was adopted under pressure from armed groups demanding the ouster of former regime officials from current political office.

Several armed groups had besieged Libya's foreign and justice ministries in Tripoli for days before the law was passed.

Megaryef was elected to head the GNC last August following Libya's first post-uprising elections the previous month.

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

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

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

Several other members of the Congress and administration officials are also expected to be affected by the law banning former regime officials.

On Sunday, the Congress approved the appointment of Mohammed Khalifa al-Sheikh as the new interior minister after his predecessor Shwayel resigned.

"The members of the General National Congress voted on Sunday night in favour of Mohamed Khalifa al-Sheikh who was proposed by the prime minister to replace Ashur Shwayel who presented his resignation," said the GNC.

Sheikh "was sworn in and should immediately begin his duties," it said in a statement.

A government source said that Shwayel, who had occupied the post since November 2012, offered to resign to Prime Minister Ali Zeidan in early May citing "personal reasons".

The source said however that his resignation was motivated by the adoption of the law that bars former members of Kadhafi's regime.

Shwayel held several senior positions in the security apparatus of the old regime, especially in the eastern city of Benghazi.

During his tenure, he came into confrontation with thuwars, former rebels who fought against the Kadhafi regime in Libya's 2011 armed uprising and refuse to give up their arms.

Defence Minister Mohamed al-Barghathi too had resigned two days after the passing of the law but later rescinded his decision at the request of Zeidan.

Barghathi was a commander in the army of Kadhafi.

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