By Claire Calzonetti and Samuel Burke
Two years after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, Libya's shaky democracy is teetering.
For days now, gangs of armed men have surrounded key ministries, trying to force out members of the democratically-elected government.
Libyan Justice Minister Salah Marghani has been forced to evacuate his own ministry, because it has been surrounded for a week by armed militias.
“The country is going through a terrible fear,” Marghani told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday. “But I assure you that the situation is under control and the government will not yield.”
Marghani reaffirmed that the government will not respond with violence.
“This situation is a standoff – a struggle between growing the right way and maybe falling back to the area of dictatorship,” Marghani said.
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On the surface, the standoff is about the militias demanding that Gadhafi-era officials be banned from government. Legislators just caved, agreeing to pass a law that could purge a third of Congress, including long-time opposition leaders like current parliament speaker, and former president, Mohamed Magarief, who held an ambassador post during the Gadhafi regime.
This chaos demonstrates Libya's ongoing struggle still to rein in militia groups that continue to menace the country and has created a vacuum for Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The huge amount of weaponry left over in the country is providing groups with different motivations to form their own militias, according to the minister.
“I think [with the] passage of time, with some patience, with more of a firm stand by the government, the situation can be resolved,” Marghani told Amanpour.
There are ever-more reports, including from Libya’s own intelligence services, that the country is increasingly militant and is becoming a safe area for al Qaeda to regroup and regenerate itself.
Marghani believes the government can turn the situation around if it creates jobs for Libyans and ensures that a democratic process prevails. The gap between Marghani’s hopes and the reality in Libya appear to be growing.
“Believe me, the Libyan people did revolt against this tyranny and they will not accept another tyranny under any banner,” Marghani said.