Anger at Libya’s feuding leaders boiled over on Friday as protesters stormed the parliament building in the eastern city of Tobruk and staged the largest demonstration in years in the western capital Tripoli.
Tobruk protesters, who accused Parliament of treason and stealing public funds, broke into the building and set fire to parts of it as the armed forces there left, some eight years after its election.
In videos posted online and confirmed by city residents, protesters screamed and cheered as flames licked the side of the building.
As political factions vie for control of the government after failing to hold scheduled elections last year, Libya has been pushed back towards territorial partition and civil war as state services gradually collapsed.
Protests over chronic power outages took protesters to the streets of several cities, defying the wrath of armed factions to vent their anger at blackouts that have made life unbearable during the hot summer months.
Several hundred people gathered in Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square to shout slogans calling for electricity, criticizing armed groups and politicians and calling for elections.
Later on Friday, dozens of protesters stood outside Government House and chanted, “We want electricity, we want electricity.”
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Other protests by dozens of protesters also took place in Benghazi, al-Baydha and Misrata and some smaller towns, showing anger spreading over the situation over the power front between the country’s rival forces.
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“We’re fed up, we’re fed up! The nation wants to overthrow governments! We want electricity!” shouted protesters in Tripoli along with chants calling for elections.
They also chanted slogans against the armed groups that control large parts of Libya. “No to militias. We want police and army,” they chanted.
Armed forces with police and military affiliations could be seen around Martyrs’ Square. During protests two years ago, demonstrators were shot at.
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Protesters say officials have turned the country into ‘hell’
“I’m here today to protest against all the officials who have made this country a living hell,” said Omar Derbal, 23, a science student.
“We are an oil producing country where power outages happen every day. It means the country is ruled by corrupt individuals,” he added.
In the city of al-Quba in eastern Libya, the hometown of parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, dozens of residents called for the overthrow of all governments and political bodies because of the low standard of living.
Years of warfare and political chaos have eroded Libya’s electricity sector, halting investment, preventing maintenance and sometimes damaging infrastructure.
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A caretaker government installed last year promised to solve the problems, but although it gave orders for work on several power plants, none came on stream and political infighting has prevented further work.
As the east-based parliament names Fathi Bashagha to head a new government, despite unity interim prime minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah refusing to hand over power, the political deadlock threatens to make matters worse.
East-based factions have blocked oil facilities, reduced fuel supplies to major power plants, and caused more power outages.
In Tripoli, protesters waved placards on which the faces of Dbeibah, Bashagha, Saleh, another legislative leader and the UN representative were crossed out with large red markers.
(Reporting by Ahmed Elumami in Tripoli and Ayman al-Warfali in Benghazi; writing by Angus McDowall; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Daniel Wallis)
https://globalnews.ca/news/8961925/libya-protests-parliament/ Protesters storm Libya’s parliament and set fire amid growing political crisis – National