UN envoy says military forces in Libya are flexing muscles

Libya fighters (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2018
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UN envoy says military forces in Libya are flexing muscles

UNITED NATIONS: The UN envoy for Libya said Wednesday that military forces “are flexing their muscles in many parts of the country” and the oil-rich nation needs a competent government.
Ghassan Salame told the Security Council that “the specter of violence remains present,” pointing to clashes between forces allied with two rival communities close to Libya’s border with Tunisia, rival groups at a flashpoint in the eastern vicinity of the capital of Tripoli, and heightened tension around the city of Derna.
He said he was delivering the briefing by videoconference from Tunis and not Tripoli as he had planned “because bloody clashes at the airport have halted all flights in and out ... for the whole week.”
Libya fell into chaos after the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 and since 2014 it has been split between rival governments and parliaments based in the western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias and tribes.
Salame said negotiations to amend a UN-brokered political agreement in December 2015 to create a unity government “have crystalized consensus on the much-needed adjustments.”
“Although a formal agreement is yet to be reached, this consensus is desirable and reachable,” he said.
Salame said Libya needs a government that can deliver desperately needed public services, unify the country’s institutions, provide order and justice, and preside over elections that would end the current transition.
He lamented that civilians continue to be killed and injured “in crossfire and indiscriminate attacks” and “armed groups fight recklessly in residential areas, with no thought to the safety of civilians.”
Libya already has “20 million pieces of arms” and the arms embargo on the North African nation “has never been more important,” Salame said.
“It is for this reason that recent reports of a large shipment of explosives intercepted by the Greek Coast Guard are particularly alarming,” he said.
Salame said the UN panel of experts monitoring the arms embargo on Libya is looking into the shipment.


Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

Updated 36 min 3 sec ago
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Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

  • Video clips circulating online show hundreds of security forces in Khartoum and more heading to nearby Omdurman
  • Longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir insists there will be no change of leadership except through the ballot box

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas on Sunday at protesters ahead of a planned march on parliament in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, witnesses said.

Demonstrators chanting “freedom, peace and justice” began gathering in some areas of Omdurman but were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas, the witnesses said.

Deadly protests which erupted on December 19 after a government decision to raise the price of bread have turned into nationwide rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three decade rule.

Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions that is leading the ongoing protest movement, called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday and several days over the coming week.

“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said in a statement.

“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.

Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman.

The SPA said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.

“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.