In Libya, after massive protests against social grievances and political deadlock, concerns are growing about further violence. Over the weekend there were clashes in the capital Tripoli and several other cities in the North African civil war country.
On Sunday night, it was mainly young people who walked through Tripoli. Some set fire to car tires. Their demands include early elections, better electricity supply and lower bread prices.
On Friday evening there were protests in the cities of Tobruk, Misrata, Sirte, Benghazi and Sabha. In Tobruk in the east, according to eyewitnesses, protesters are attacking parliament, throwing stones and setting fires. Video of a bulldozer ramming a gate of Parliament was shared on social media. Libyan media published a photo of the damaged building with burn marks.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said demonstrators should refrain from violence. The security forces should hold back. The UN special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, also appealed to everyone involved to remain calm. Acts of violence such as the storming of Parliament are “completely unacceptable”. In view of the “fragile situation”, the EU ambassador in Libya, José Sabadell, also urged restraint.
Fueled by Russia and Turkey
The news site Al-Wasat reported on a “Friday of Rage” – an allusion to the motto “Day of Rage” under which opponents of long-time ruler Muammar al-Gaddafi took to the streets in 2011. After the violent suppression of these protests and the fall of Gaddafi, a civil war broke out in the oil-rich country. To this day, countless militias are struggling for influence. The conflict is fueled by other states, including Russia and Turkey.
Libya has been marked by years of civil war and public services are very poor. The demonstrators are demanding a dissolution of the two governments struggling for power and elections. A nationwide election was supposed to take place in December, but failed, among other things, due to the dispute over the approval of candidates and constitutional foundations.
UN Special Advisor Williams recently tried to promote new talks between the hostile camps in Cairo and Geneva about the constitution. Despite some progress, the conflicting parties are in a “political dead end”, according to UN Secretary-General Guterres. In Libya, the governments around Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbaiba and ex-Interior Minister Fathi Baschaga have been fighting for power for months.
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