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UN Slams Storming of Libya Parliament  07/03 08:42

   

   CAIRO (AP) -- A senior U.N. official for Libya on Saturday condemned the 
storming of the parliament's headquarters in the east of the oil-rich country 
as part of protests in several cities the previous day against the political 
class and deteriorating economic conditions.

   Hundreds of protesters marched in the streets of the capital, Tripoli, and 
other Libyan cities on Friday, with many attacking and setting fire to 
government buildings, including the House of Representatives in the eastern 
city of Tobruk.

   "The people's right to peacefully protest should be respected and protected 
but riots and acts of vandalism such as the storming of the House of 
Representatives headquarters late yesterday in Tobruk are totally 
unacceptable," said Stephanie Williams, the U.N. special adviser on Libya, on 
Twitter.

   The Secretary-General is following with concern the demonstrations that were 
held in several cities in Libya, including Tripoli, Tobruk and Benghazi, on 1 
July.

   Recognizing the right to demonstrate peacefully, he calls on all protestors 
to avoid acts of violence and on the security forces to exercise utmost 
restraint.

   U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on all protesters "to avoid 
acts of violence and on the security forces to exercise utmost restraint," U.N. 
spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

   "The secretary-general urges Libyan actors to come together to overcome the 
continued political deadlock, which is deepening divisions and negatively 
impacting the country's economy," Dujarric said.

   Friday's protests came a day after the leaders of the parliament and another 
legislative chamber based in Tripoli failed to reach an agreement on elections 
during U.N.-mediated talks in Geneva. The dispute now centers on the 
eligibility requirements for candidates, according to the United Nations.

   Libya failed to hold elections in December, following challenges such as 
legal disputes, controversial presidential hopefuls and the presence of rogue 
militias and foreign fighters in the country.

   The failure to hold the December vote was a major blow to international 
efforts to bring peace to the Mediterranean nation. It has opened a new chapter 
in its long-running political impasse, with two rival governments now claiming 
power after tentative steps toward unity in the past year.

   The protesters, frustrated from years of chaos and division, have called for 
the removal of the current political class and elections to be held. They also 
rallied against dire economic conditions in the oil-rich nation, where prices 
have risen for fuel and bread and power outages are a regular occurrence.

   Protesters also rallied on Saturday in Tripoli and several towns in western 
Libya, blocking roads and setting tires ablaze, according to livestreaming on 
social media.

   There were fears that militias across the country could quash the protests 
as they did in 2020 demonstrations when they opened fire on people protesting 
dire economic conditions.

   Sabadell Jose, the European Union envoy in Libya, called on protesters to 
"avoid any type of violence." He said Friday's demonstrations demonstrated that 
people want "change through elections and their voices should be heard."

   The U.S. ambassador to Libya, Richard Norland, urged Libyan political 
leaders and their foreign backers to work for a compromise to hold elections.

   "It is clear no single political entity enjoys legitimate control across the 
entire country and any effort to impose a unilateral solution will result in 
violence," he warned on Twitter following a call with Mohammad Younes Menfi, 
head of the Libyan presidential council.

   Libya has been wrecked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and 
killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country was then for 
years split between rival administrations in the east and west, each supported 
by different militias and foreign governments.

 
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