Libyan militia brings pay protest to minister's office

TRIPOLI Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:23pm EST

Ali Zeidan, Prime Minister of Libya pauses after his address to the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Ali Zeidan, Prime Minister of Libya pauses after his address to the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva February 25, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - A group of unarmed militiamen demanding better pay for guarding Libya's borders barged into the prime minister's headquarters on Monday, but the man they'd come to see was away, an official said.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was in Geneva to address the United Nations Human Rights Council when about 30 men forced their way into the government compound in central Tripoli, in the latest example of volatility plaguing the North African country.

"The group went upstairs and spoke to one official there but they wanted to see Zeidan who is not in the country today," a government official, who declined to be named, said, adding painting was damaged in the process.

He said the group staged a peaceful sit-in outside the main building but still within the compound.

It was not immediately clear who the men were but the official said they belonged to border security forces - mainly made up of militias aligned with the defense ministry.

With a weak state army and police, Libya's government relies on militias for security in the North African country.

Earlier this month, former rebel fighters wounded in the 2011 war that ousted Muammar Gaddafi and calling for better compensation forced their way into the meeting hall of the national congress, forcing its members to find other temporary venues to hold sessions.

Government buildings as well as oil installations have become a focal point of protests in Libya as the government struggles to impose order on a vast and divided country still awash with arms.

In a move seen as an attempt to appease growing discontent, congress leader Mohammed Magarief this month promised to hand out money to Libyan families to mark the second anniversary of the start of the North African country's revolution.

(Reporting by Ali Shuaib; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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