Sun, 27 Sep 2020

Eastern Libyan Interim Prime Minister Resigns Following Protests

Voice of America
15 Sep 2020, 06:05 GMT+10

CAIRO - The prime minister of eastern Libya's interim government has resigned following protests in several eastern Libyan towns and cities, including an attack on the headquarters of military commander Gen. Khalifa Haftar over the weekend.

A spokesman for interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said the resignation was submitted to Parliament speaker Aguilah Saleh, whose spokesman indicated it would be debated by MPs at a future session.

The resignation came after popular protests in Benghazi and several other eastern Libyan cities over deteriorating living conditions, including long power cuts, water shortages and a dearth of basic necessities.

Libyan media with ties to Islamist militias showed video of what appeared to be a shooting in front of eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar's main headquarters in the town of Al Marj. Some Libyan media claimed that "protesters" stormed the compound. VOA could not independently confirm the claim.

Haftar's spokesman, Col. Ahmed Almasmary, told Libyan TV that his forces support popular protests but urged protesters to demonstrate during the daytime so that they can be protected. Almasmary claimed that forces aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and Takfiri groups were trying to sow chaos.

The U.N. Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) issued a statement Sunday expressing "grave concern" over reports that one civilian was killed, three others wounded and a number arrested ... after eastern Libyan forces used what it called "excessive force against peaceful protesters."

Popular protests against the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord in the capital of Tripoli reportedly left several people wounded earlier this month after forces there fired on crowds.

Libya has been effectively split between rival eastern and western governments since 2015.

In other developments, Almasmary told Arab media that reports that Hafter promised U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland that he would turn on the oil spigots again "are being discussed and are tied to concerns that the government in Tripoli may use its share of oil money to pay for deals signed with Turkey."

Libyan analyst Aya Burweila, a visiting lecturer at the Hellenic Defense College, told VOA that the crisis in eastern Libya can be blamed mostly on a budget shortfall, but that the interim government's resignation "comes as a surprise to Libyans in that it shows it is responsive to its constituents, and willing to take responsibility for its failures."

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