Social unrest in Libya amid political chaos

Grumbling in Libya amid political chaos

Protesters broke into the Tobruk parliament building.

Unable to settle their political squabbles, rival leaders in Libya are finding themselves under mounting pressure from the streets amid widespread protests sparked by chronic power cuts amid the heatwave.

In Tobruk, in the far east of the country, demonstrators armed with a bulldozer forced the entrance to parliament on Friday, before setting it on fire, protesting against the deterioration of living conditions and the carelessness of their leaders.

From the cradle of the 2011 revolt in Benghazi (east) to the capital Tripoli (west), via the eastern cities of Tobruk and al-Baïda, thousands of people pounded the pavement Friday evening across the country.

We want to have light, chanted the demonstrators, in reference to the power cuts which last a dozen hours daily, even 18 hours on hot days .

Fire breaks out in Libya's parliament building after protests against failed government in Tobruk.

The capital was also the scene of protests on Friday with hundreds of people demanding a renewal of the political class, the holding of elections and an end to power cuts.

This sudden conflagration is spreading all over the country, according to images released by the media. In Sebha, in the south, protesters set fire to an official building.

For more than a year, the overwhelming majority of diplomacy and mediation efforts regarding Libya have been monopolized by the notion of elections, which will not take place for at least two years. , given the failure of the Geneva negotiations on Thursday under the auspices of the UN, analyst Jalel Harchaoui, a specialist in Libya, told AFP.

However, the economy should probably have been the real top priority for everyone, believes the researcher. On this front, the year 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, as in many countries in the region. .

The key energy sector, which in the time of former leader Muammar Gaddafi, killed during the 2011 revolt, made it possible to finance a welfare state, has been a collateral victim of political divisions since mid-April, with a wave of forced closures of oil sites, the result of a standoff between two rival governments.

One ​​is based in Tripoli and led by Abdelhamid Dbeibah since 2021, the other led by Fathi Bachagha and supported by the Parliament of Tobruk and Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strongman of the East. By closing the oil floodgates, supporters of the Eastern camp are demanding the transfer of power to Mr. Bachagha.

The National Petroleum Company (NOC) announced Thursday losses of more than 3.5 billion dollars and a drop in the production of gas, however necessary to supply the electricity network.

Demonstrators gathered in Martyrs Square in Tripoli on Friday to demand elections and protest against the government and parliament.

On Friday, many protesters waved the green flag of the former Gaddafi regime, as if to regret.

Because, since his death, Libya has been struggling to complete its transition, at the expense of a bloodless population deprived of the country's immense energy resources.

In 11 years, it has known a dozen governments, two civil wars and has never managed to organize a presidential election.

In addition to power cuts, Libyans live to the rhythm of cash and gasoline shortages. The infrastructures are flat, the services failing.

In the east as in the west, militias carry out immense trafficking which causes serious shortages gasoline for the ordinary population. Finally, there is the systematic kleptocracy and corruption in both East and West that the fine cars and villas of the elites constantly remind the general public of, Harchaoui points out.

Stephanie Williams, the UN envoy to Libya, who is sponsoring an increasingly bogged down political process, called the vandalism of parliament unacceptable and called on all parties to restraint.

European Union Ambassador to Libya José Sabadell says protests confirm people want change through elections and their voice must be heard.

But protests must be peaceful and avoid any form of violence, he wrote on Twitter.

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