Libyan Conflict Intensifies with Raging Protests against Living Conditions
Last updated on August 29th, 2020
The Libyan government’s worst nightmare came true on Sunday evening when hundreds of Libyans came out on street in the capital Tripoli to protest against deteriorating living conditions and corruption in the war-torn country.
The protestors, mainly the young generation, expressed anger due to extended power cuts, shortage of water, and long lines at petrol stations by chanting slogans “No to corruption!”
The Libyan conflict date back to 2011 when the country endured almost a decade of violent chaos during the NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Libya, the largest oil reserve in Africa, has been at the centre of various conflicts mainly because of water shortages and power blackouts that snuff out air-conditioners in the blazing summers. The Libyan conflict was further aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic, which brought down the global demand of oil, thus reducing oil prices. Reduction in oil prices greatly affected the war-weary country’s economy.
The pandemic spread like a fire in the country of 6.6 million people despite the social distancing measures in place. The coronavirus cases skyrocketed 15-times in Libya since June. A humanitarian crisis is being feared in the country if the protests continue.
“Infrastructure all over the country is falling apart. People have little electricity, drinking water, sanitation, or medical care in the middle of a growing pandemic,” said Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The protestors, ignoring the social distancing norms, marched in hundreds in front of the seat of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) before gathering in Martyrs’ Square. The videos shared on social media showed the presence of police vehicles and armed forces present at the protests.
Ayman Al-Wafi, a young man in his twenties, said that the protestors left from the Martyrs’ Square after “security forces started firing in the air.”
The Libyan conflict ignited two days after a surprise announcement was made on Friday by the country’s warring rival administrations that they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections.
Fayez Al-Sarraj, head of the UN-recognized GNA, and Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern-based parliament backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who launched an abortive offensive in April 2019 to seize Tripoli announced a ceasefire and the possibility of elections.
However, Haftar’s forces dismissed the ceasefire announcement by GNA, calling it just a “marketing” stunt.
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