The economic crisis and political paralysis in Libya has sparked a wave of protests in the country’s major cities, from east to west. The greatest tension was recorded in Tobruk, where the parliament building was stormed.
At the end of the day, demonstrations against deteriorating living conditions and the political impasse in Cyrenaica had deteriorated. Several television stations reported that dozens of people entered the building that houses the parliament (empty due to Eid) and looted. Pictures showed thick plumes of black smoke rising from the perimeter of the building after some young people burned tires. A bulldozer driven by a demonstrator crashed into part of the gate of the complex, facilitating its storming. According to other media, part of the building was set on fire, as were police cars. Other protesters, some waving green flags of the former regime of Muammar Gaddafi, burned documents collected from offices. Marches were also held in Al-Bayda, Misurata and Tripoli in front of the headquarters of the National Unity Government, but without incident. The protest came as Libyans have been grappling for days with constant power cuts, which have been exacerbated by a blockade of several oil facilities due to tensions between rival factions. The anger of the citizens is directed against the political class, which is considered incapable of giving concrete answers to the problems of daily life, and which was unable to call for new elections, after canceling those that were scheduled last December. Arena called for a presidential and legislative vote later this year. However, recent talks between the heads of the two rival councils – the leader of the Tobruk parliament, Aguila Saleh and the head of the High Council of State in Tripoli, Khaled al-Mashri – failed to resolve the main differences. The prospects for holding elections are more remote than at any time since the Tobruk Council appointed a rival government to replace that of interim Prime Minister Abdel Hamid Dabaiba, claiming that his term had expired. The past few weeks have seen recurring tensions between armed groups in Tripoli, raising fears of a full-scale resurgence of conflict. The energy sector is also suffering from this paralysis. In April, the blockade of two major oil export terminals and several fields began. For the national body, the Libyan National Oil Corporation, this blockade has so far resulted in $3.5 billion in losses. The decline in gas production contributes to chronic blackouts that last for twelve hours a day.
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