The embassies of US and UK in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, withdrew some staff and issued travel warnings as protests rage over a law purging senior Muammar Gaddafi-era officials from office.
The US, UK, Canadian and German embassies warned their citizens to only undertake essential travel to Tripoli and some other areas of the country.
“Demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence,” the US Embassy said in a statement. “There is a potential for violence and clashes between rival armed groups,” the UK government said on its website.
Libya’s foreign and justice ministries have been blockaded for most of the past 12 days by militiamen vowing to stay until purges of personnel authorized by the so-called Isolation Law are implemented. They are also seeking the removal of Prime Minister Ali Zaidan.
The May 5 law will force changes to the Cabinet and delay efforts to rebuild the country, Zaidan said in a televised address on May 8. He noted that foreign companies are reluctant to open offices in Libya, while others have left the country, holder of Africa’s largest oil reserves.
Half a million people may lose their jobs because of the law, according to Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the National Forces Alliance, Libya’s biggest political party, on May 8.