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protesters storm the Parliament building in Tobruk, in the east of the country

protesters storm the Parliament building in Tobruk, in the east of the country

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The Libyan Parliament building in the eastern city of Tobruk was seized on Friday by protesters expressing anger at the two governments, as talks led by the speakers of Libya’s two rival parliaments in Geneva ended on Thursday without any tangible results. to reactivate the electoral process.

According to several television channels, the protesters entered the Libyan Parliament in Tobruk, in the east of the country, on Friday, July 1, and committed acts of vandalism. They were protesting against deteriorating living conditions and the negligence of their leaders, the day after a new round of negotiations between rival sides failed.

Media images showed thick plumes of black smoke rising from the perimeter of the building after tires were burned by angry young protesters. Other media outlets said that part of the building had burned down. The Parliament building was empty when the protesters entered, as Friday was a public holiday in Libya.

A bulldozer driven by a protester broke part of the building’s door, making it easier for protesters to enter, according to footage. Members’ cars were set on fire. Later, more construction crews arrived and began breaking down sections of the building’s walls.

Other protesters, some carrying green flags of the former regime of Muammar Gaddafi, threw documents they had retrieved from offices into the air. Libya has been in chaos since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011.

Power outages

The demonstration came at a time when the country has been suffering from power cuts for several days, aggravated by the blockade of several oil installations amid political disputes between rival factions.

“We want to have light,” the demonstrators chanted.

“We must recognize our failure and immediately withdraw from the political scene,” Balkheir Alshaab was quoted as saying by Libya al-Ahrar.

“I ask my fellow deputies and the members of the Council of State (Upper House) to resign collectively to respect the will of the Libyan people and preserve the stability of Libya,” said another deputy, Ziad Dgheim, quoted by the same media.

Two governments have been vying for power since March: one, based in Tripoli and led by Abdelhamid Dbeibah since 2021, and the other led by Fathi Bachagha and supported by the Tobruk parliament and Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the strong man from the east.

There is no agreement on the elections

Presidential and parliamentary elections were originally due to be held in December 2021 in Libya to culminate a UN-sponsored peace process following the 2020 violence.

But they have been postponed indefinitely due to sharp differences between political rivals and tensions on the ground.

The latest round of talks at the UN between the presidents of the two rival chambers ended on Thursday without agreement on a constitutional framework for holding elections.

The talks were led by the Speaker of the Tobruk House of Representatives, Aguila Saleh, and the President of the Tripoli-based State High Council, Khaled el-Mechri.

Similar protests took place in Tripoli and other Libyan cities on Friday. In the capital, protesters raised portraits of Abdelhamid Dbeibah and Fathi Bachagha with the “X” crossed out, as a sign of rejection.

The Libyan National Oil Company (NOC) on Thursday announced losses of more than $3.5 billion from the forced closure of major oil fields since mid-April, and declared a state of “force majeure” at some facilities.

According to the NOC, production has fallen “sharply” and exports have fallen to between “365,000 and 409,000 b/d, a loss of 865,000 b/d” compared to the average production before April. In addition, 220 million cubic meters of gas are lost every day, although they are necessary to supply the electricity grid.

The drop in gas production is contributing to Libya’s chronic power cuts, which last about 12 hours a day.

“Popular protests have broken out across Libya in exasperation at the deteriorating quality of life and political crisis and at those behind it and at the UN playing their game,” analyst Tarek wrote on Twitter. Megrisi, of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).


*With AFP and Reuters; adapted from its original French version



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