In a rare display of public discontent in Libya’s second largest city, dozens of protesters rallied in Benghazi over deteriorating conditions and power cuts.
Footage posted on social media on Thursday showed huge gusts of smoke in the sky when protesters set tires on fire and blocked access to some roads.
A city of some 650,000 inhabitants, Benghazi Pakhti is the mainstay of military commander Khalifa Hafar, whose self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive to control the wrestling of the capital Tripoli in April 2019, which is internationally recognized is. Government of National Agreement (GNA).
– Libya Review (@LibyaReview) September 10, 2020
Electricity supply has deteriorated this year, leading to protests in Tripoli last month and poor living standards were added to the rise in coronovirus cases.
The most immediate reason for the power supply deterioration is the lack of fuel for power plants. The LNA has accused Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) of not importing enough fuel to operate the plants.
The NOC warned of a poor blackout in eastern Libya last month, stating that the LNA’s months of blockade of oil and gas facilities had caused this shortage. It said the import of diesel to operate the plants was causing “serious financial difficulties”.
The NOC has appealed to end the blockade for the LNA, which began in January and has drastically cut production, causing an almost total collapse of energy revenue – Libya’s main source of foreign exchange – this year. .
Photo | Protests in Sidi Hussain area and Jamal Abdel Nasser Street #Benghazi Due to increase in #electricity Cut, after #NOCMustafa #Sanallah A diesel tanker was moved to another location intended to feed city stations. #Libya pic.twitter.com/TOJEBeJSPb
– الحيفة المرصد الليبية (@ObservatoryLY) September 10, 2020
The LNA is supported by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt. GNA is supported by Turkey.
Earlier on Thursday, the European Union said that its naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea intercepted a ship carrying jet fuel from the UAE to Benghazi on suspicion of breaking a ship.
Libya has faced violent chaos for almost a decade since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising and long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was killed.
The oil-rich country has been divided between governments in the East and West since disputed elections and increased fighting in 2014.
Peace efforts in Libya have gained momentum as Haftar Tripoli became aggressive after being beaten by GTA forces at the end of June, with front lines frozen near the central city of Sirte.
Members of rival parliamentary assemblies on both sides are meeting in Morocco this week and on Thursday said they have agreed to the criteria for appointing senior figures in sovereign institutions, representing a step forward in negotiations.
Al Jazeera and news agencies