Social unrest in Libya amid political turmoil

Unable to settle their political squabbles, Libya’s rival leaders came under increasing pressure on the streets on Saturday in the wake of protests across the country over prolonged power cuts in the heatwave.

Peace appears to have returned to the town of Tobruk, far east of the country, on Saturday, where protesters forced bulldozers to set fire to the entrance to parliament on Friday, but Internet users have called for new protests in the city. Evening.

The protesters, some of whom waved the green flag of Muammar Gaddafi’s former regime, expressed their displeasure at the carelessness of their leaders and the deteriorating living conditions in a country that has the largest oil reserves in Africa.

A parliamentary source told AFP that the chamber had detained the attorney general for demanding an “immediate investigation” into Tobruk’s violence.

The parliament is a symbol of Libya’s division into a camp based in Sirenika (east) led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar and a Tripoli (west) based government led by Abdelhamid Baibah since 2021.

The Haftar camp supports the rival government formed last March. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

– “Extremely painful” –

According to local journalists, if there is no large-scale gathering on Saturday, protesters block the road in the port city of Misrata (west), vandalizing and burning the city council headquarters the day before.

Thousands of people thronged sidewalks across the country on Friday from Benghazi (east) to the western capital, Tripoli, through the eastern cities of Tobruk and Al-Baida.

Even in the south, in Seva, protesters set fire to a government building, according to images broadcast by the media.

“We want to get light,” the protesters chanted, a dozen hours a day, even on hot days, in the context of 18 hours of permanent power outages.

“For more than a year now, the lion’s share of diplomatic and mediation efforts in Libya have been monopolized by the idea of ​​elections, which will not take place for at least two years, due to the failure of talks in Geneva on Thursday. The United Nations, “Libyan expert analyst Jalel Harchaui told AFP.

However, the economy “should undoubtedly have been the real top priority among all,” he speculates. “On this front, 2022 has been extremely difficult for Libyans, for several reasons: Libya imports almost all of its food, and the war in Ukraine has affected consumer prices like many countries in the region. A

The main power sector, which under Gaddafi, who was killed during the popular uprising of 2011, made it possible to finance a welfare state, has been a parallel victim of political divisions since mid-April with a wave of forced oil shutdowns. Site. , The result of stagnation between the two rival governments.

– “Unacceptable” –

The National Petroleum Company (NOC) said on Thursday that the oil blockade had also reduced the production of gas needed to supply the power grid.

Since the fall of Gaddafi, Libya has known a dozen governments, fought several battles between rival forces and never held a presidential election.

In addition to power outages, Libyans live in short supply of cash and petrol. Infrastructure is flat, services fail.

In the East, as in the West, militias “smuggle huge amounts that cause serious gas shortages for the general public. Finally, there is systematic cleptocracy and corruption in both East and West that the elite’s beautiful cars and villas constantly remind the general public,” Mr Harchaui stressed.

Stephanie Williams, the UN ambassador to Libya who has been patronizing the stalled political process, called the vandalism of parliament “unacceptable.”

For Jose Sabdale, the European Union’s ambassador to Libya, the protests “ensure that people want change through elections and their voices must be heard.”

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