Libya defense minister quits over siege of ministries by gunmen

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya's defense minister resigned on Tuesday in protest at a siege by gunmen of two government ministries that he denounced as an assault on democracy.

He was the first cabinet minister to quit in a crisis over the siege, which armed groups refused to lift even after parliament bowed on Sunday to their main demand by banning any senior official who served under the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi from holding government posts.

"I will never be able to accept that politics (can) be practiced by the power of weapons ... This is an assault against the democracy I have sworn to protect," Defense Minister Mohammed al-Bargathi said.

(Reporting by Ghaith Shennib; Writing by Jessica Donati; Editing by Mark Heinrich)