Government in eastern Libya resigns after days of protest

The government in the eastern part of Libya resigned after four days of protests against cash shortages, frequent power cuts and increasingly high fuel prices

September 15, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Credit : Libya Al-Ahrar TV

The government in eastern Libya, which is associated with the breakaway Libyan National Army led by general Khalifa Haftar, handed over its resignation to the speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR), Aguila Saleh, on Sunday, September 13. This was after four days of intense civilian protests against declining living conditions in areas under its control. The resignation will now be reviewed by the HoR members in their next meeting, according to a parliamentary spokesman. If the government’s resignation is accepted, the HoR will also have to elect a successor to the outgoing prime minister, Abdallah al-Thani.

Earlier, angry protesters set ablaze a government building in the eastern city of Benghazi. The protesters demanded that the government address longstanding issues such as cash shortages, frequent power cuts and increasingly high fuel prices that have made life considerably harder for ordinary Libyans. Demonstrations against the government also reportedly took place in other cities, such as Al-Bayda and Al-Marj, in eastern Libya, and Sabha, in the southern part of the country.

According to local media, several hundred people took part in the protests in Benghazi. The protests were met with a severe response by the police. Five protesters were injured. Security forces also raided the home of activist Munir Zgheiba, who expressed his support for the protests on social media.

Similar protests were also reported from Libya’s capital Tripoli, currently under the control of the Government of National Accord, where civilians also blame the government for deteriorating living conditions. They demanded that the government implement long overdue political reforms like holding national elections and eradicating corruption.

The GNA armed forces and Khalifa’s Libyan National Army have been engaged in a violent and bloody civil war since 2014, with both sides attempting to wrest full control of the country. Both sides have also been financially and militarily supported by multiple foreign powers.

Libya has been in a state of civil war since 2011, when a NATO-led invasion aided by internal rebels overthrew the Libyan regime and killed the then Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. The conflict took an even more violent turn in 2014 after differences between the two rival factions led to various governments controlling different parts of the country.

Attempting to find a resolution to the conflict and end the violence, the two warring parties took part in the negotiations sponsored by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the European Union (EU) in Bouzanika, Morocco. A recently-declared ceasefire in August also failed to reduce the conflict. The most recent attempts at conflict resolution took place in Montreux, Switzerland in the first week of September. Other stakeholders and local factions were also a part of these negotiations which hopes to achieve a deal that will include a long term ceasefire as well as details regarding the holding of national elections in the not too distant future. The two sides are scheduled to meet again in the last week of September to decide on some of the important terms of the agreement.