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

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

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.


Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile
Updated 17 January 2021

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile

Lebanon patriarch tells feuding president and PM-designate to reconcile
  • The country’s fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a new administration since the last one quit
  • Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai said at his Sunday sermon that the situation in Lebanon was now “tragic”

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric has urged President Michel Aoun to set up a reconciliation meeting with Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri to form a cabinet and end the country’s political deadlock.
The country’s fractious politicians have been unable to agree on a new administration since the last one quit in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 Beirut port explosion, leaving Lebanon rudderless as it sinks deeper into economic crisis.
Tensions between Aoun and Hariri, who publicly traded blame in December after failing to agree a cabinet, came to a head last week when a leaked video showed Aoun apparently calling Hariri a liar.
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai said at his Sunday sermon that the situation in Lebanon was now “tragic” and there was no excuse to further delay forming a government.
“We wish that his excellency the president take the initiative and invite the prime minister-designate to a meeting.”
Veteran Sunni politician Hariri was named premier for a fourth time in October, promising to form a cabinet of specialists to enact reforms necessary to unlock foreign aid, but political wrangling has delayed the process since.
The leaked video that circulated on social media last week showed Aoun talking to caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab about Hariri.
“There is no government formation, he (Hariri) is saying he gave me a paper, he is lying,” Aoun is heard saying.
Sources in the president’s office said the dialogue had been taken out of context and was not complete.
After the video circulated, Hariri tweeted biblical verses referring to wisdom not residing in bodies that were amenable to sin.
The souring of the relationship between Aoun and Hariri comes as the country continues to struggle with an acute financial crisis that has seen the currency sink by about 80%.
Lebanon’s health care system is also buckling under the pressure of a severe spike in COVID-19 infections. Medical supplies have dwindled as dollars have grown scarce.