Social unrest in Libya amid political turmoil

Stuck in an irregular political stalemate, Libya’s rival leaders are finding themselves in increasing pressure on the streets with protests across the country due to prolonged power cuts in the heatwave.

On Friday, protesters in the far eastern city of Tobruk forced bulldozers to set fire to the entrance to parliament.

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.

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

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on all actors to “refrain from any action that could harm stability” and “come together to overcome the ongoing political stalemate.”

This week, UN-mediated Libya’s rival institutions have failed to resolve differences.

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.

On Saturday evening, Marshal Haftar’s self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (ANL) said in a press release that it “supports the demands of the citizens”, urging protesters to “protect government property.”

“It is clear that no political entity enjoys legitimate control over the entire country and any attempt to impose a unilateral solution would turn violent,” said Richard Norland, the US ambassador to Tripoli.

He called on Libyan leaders and their foreign backers to restore their confidence in the country’s future.

– “Extremely painful” –

According to local journalists, on Saturday, protesters blocked the road in the port city of Misrata (west), after vandalizing and setting fire to the city council headquarters the day before.

After dark, protesters gathered at several points in Tripoli, blocking roads and burning tires, according to local media reports.

Earlier in the day, thousands of people threw footpaths across the country from Benghazi (east) to Tripoli, the eastern cities of Tobruk and Al-Baida, as well as Seva in the south of the desert.

“We want to get light,” the protesters chanted, referring to a dozen hours of power cuts every day, even 18 hours on hot days.

“For more than a year, 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,”

However, the economy “probably should have been everyone’s real top priority,” he said. “On this front, 2022 has been extremely difficult for Libyans, for a variety of reasons: Libya imports almost all of its food, and the war in Ukraine has affected consumer prices like many countries in the region.”

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 a showdown 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 a time of cash and petrol shortages. Infrastructure is flat, services fail.

In the East, as in the West, the militias drive “huge vehicles that cause serious gas shortages for the general public. Finally, as in the West, there is cleptocracy, systematic corruption, the elite’s beautiful cars and villas all the time. Remind the general public,” Mr Harchaui underlined.

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

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