Protests against Libya’s GNA erupt in Tripoli over living conditions

Martyrs’ Square, in the center of Tripoli, has been the nexus site of protests for many years. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 24 August 2020

Protests against Libya’s GNA erupt in Tripoli over living conditions

  • Witnesses claim they saw security forces "firing in the air"
  • Libya has experienced nearly a decade of conflict and instability since a NATO-backed uprising that killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi

TRIPOLI: Hundreds of Libyans marched in the capital Tripoli on Sunday evening to protest deteriorating living conditions and denounce corruption in the war-torn country, witnesses said.
Angry at extended cuts to power and water, and long lines at petrol stations, the mostly young people marched in the streets of the city center, chanting slogans including “No to corruption!“
Libya, which sits atop Africa’s largest proven crude oil reserves, has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
The war-weary country is plagued by water shortages and power blackouts that snuff out air-conditioners in the searing summer heat.
The deplorable situation has been compounded by the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has depressed global oil prices and spread in the country despite social distancing measures.
“We are tired of living without hope,” Ayman Al-Wafi, a young man in his twenties, told AFP by telephone from the protest.
Ignoring restrictions in place to curb the spread of the virus, the protesters marched in front of the seat of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) before gathering in Martyrs’ Square.
Police vehicles and security forces were present at the march, according to witnesses and videos shared on social media.
Al-Wafi later told AFP that protesters had left Martyrs’ Square after “security forces started firing in the air.”
The protest comes just two days after the country’s warring rival administrations announced separately that they would cease all hostilities and hold nationwide elections.
The surprise announcement Friday was made by 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.
But the prospect of a let-up in violence came as coronavirus cases skyrocketed 15-fold in Libya since June, the ICRC said, warning this was further deepening a dire humanitarian crisis.
“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,” International Committee of the Red Cross president Peter Maurer said in a statement.


Palestinian shot, killed after ramming car into Israeli forces, police say

Updated 34 min 30 sec ago

Palestinian shot, killed after ramming car into Israeli forces, police say

  • The Palestinian man was taken to a nearby Israeli hospital after being shot and died of his wounds

JERUSALEM: Israeli security forces fatally shot a Palestinian driver who tried to ram his car into them at a checkpoint on Jerusalem’s outskirts on Wednesday after he raised suspicions by presenting apparently fake identification papers, police said.
The man was taken to a nearby Israeli hospital after being shot and died of his wounds, a hospital spokeswoman said.
There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials.
“Suspicion arose that the documents presented by the driver were not his and he was apparently trying to impersonate someone else,” a police statement said.
“During the security check, the suspect started speeding, hitting a border policeman who was at the scene. Following this, the policeman and the security personnel fired at the vehicle,” police said in a statement.
The Israeli policeman was lightly injured, police said.
Palestinians carried out a wave of car-rammings in Jerusalem and the West Bank in late 2015 and 2016, but the frequency of such incidents has since ebbed.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down in 2014. The Palestinians want to establish a state in east Jerusalem, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.