Power outage protests hit Libyan cities, showing anger at faction leaders

Protests over Libya’s chronic power cuts hit several cities on Friday, as people braved the wrath of armed factions to express their anger at a government failure that has made life unbearable during the blistering summer months.

In Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square, hundreds of people gathered to shout slogans demanding electricity, criticizing armed factions and politicians and demanding elections in the capital’s biggest protests against the ruling elite for years.

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Smaller protests by dozens of protesters also took place in Benghazi and Tobruk and in some smaller towns, demonstrating how anger at the situation is spreading across the front lines of power between the country’s rival forces.

“We’re fed up, we’re fed up! The nation wants to overthrow governments! We want electricity!” protesters in Tripoli chanted and chanted to demand elections.

They also chanted slogans against the armed factions that control parts of Libya. “No to militias. We want police and army,” they chanted.

Armed forces with police and military ties were visible around Martelarenplein. During protests two years ago, demonstrators were shot at.

“I am here today to protest against all the officials who have brought this country to hell,” said Omar Derbal, 23, a science student.

“We are an oil-producing country that faces power cuts every day. It means the country is run by corrupt individuals,” he added.

In the city of al-Quba in eastern Libya, dozens of residents demanded the downfall of all governments and political bodies due to low living standards.

The electricity sector in Libya has been undermined by years of warfare and political chaos, halting investment, hindering maintenance work and sometimes damaging infrastructure.

An interim unity government installed last year promised to solve the problems, but although it issued contracts for work on several power plants, none have come into effect and political wrangling has prevented further work.

Meanwhile, with the eastern-based parliament appointing Fathi Bashagha as head of a new government, though the unit’s interim prime minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah refuses to hand over power, the political deadlock threatens to make matters worse.

East-based factions have blocked oil facilities, reducing fuel supply to major power plants, causing more power outages.

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