Libyan ex-rebel fighters protesting against a new government line-up loosened a day-old siege of the national assembly building on Friday, an AFP correspondent reported.
Traffic was flowing freely again on the road leading to the assembly and the adjacent Rixos hotel, with police cars deployed at the entrances and at nearby junctions.
“They left this morning, peacefully and without problems,” a policeman stationed at one of the outer gates of the compound told AFP.
Dozens of armed men had surrounded the assembly building on Thursday blocking off traffic with vehicles mounted with heavy weapons as a protest over the cabinet approved by the assembly on Wednesday evening escalated.
Many of the protesters were former rebels who fought in the uprising that toppled veteran dictator Mummar Qaddafi last year.
On Friday, some of the gun-mounted vehicles remained inside the assembly compound but were partially hidden from view by banners posted by the protesters.
“The revolutionaries demand a government of free men,” read one. “You were elected to serve the people, not to disappoint them,” read another.
An assembly official said the protest was beginning to disperse after prime minister designate Ali Zeidan received a delegation to hear their grievances against his cabinet line-up.
“The revolutionaries are leaving gradually,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“They met with Prime Minister Ali Zeidan yesterday (Thursday) and asked him to change some ministers,” he said, adding that some of the protesters had still spent the night in the assembly’s grounds.
The show of strength by the former rebels, some of whom now belong to units at least nominally under government command, highlights the volatile security situation in Libya, which remains awash with weapons more than a year after Qaddafi’s overthrow and still lacks a strong army or police force.
The national assembly gave its approval on Wednesday to the 30-member cabinet presented by Zeidan but assembly members can still raise objections to individual nominees, some of whom have been criticized for past links to Qaddafi’s toppled regime.
Assembly president Mohammed Megaryef has denounced the “psychological pressure” placed on elected representatives after protesters barged into the chamber derailing a first attempt at a vote on the new cabinet on Tuesday.