UN Condemns Storming of Libyan Parliament

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On Saturday, the United Nations (UN) Secretary’s Special Adviser to Libya, Stephanie Williams, denounced the acts of riots and vandalism since protesters stormed the headquarters of the Libyan eastern-based Parliament in Tobruk on Friday evening.

Hundreds of protesters also set fire to parts of the Parliament’s building over months of failed efforts to set the divided country on a path toward elections.

“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’ (HoR) headquarters late yesterday in Tobruk are totally unacceptable,” the UN adviser said in a tweet.

She added, “it is absolutely vital that calm is maintained, responsible Libyan leadership demonstrated, and restraint exercised by all.”

Several cities, including Tripoli, have witnessed demonstrations over deteriorating living conditions and calls for the dissolution of political bodies, media reports said.

According to eyewitnesses, thousands joined a march to the Parliament building calling for the current political powers to be dissolved and elections to be held.

They said that as security guards tried to prevent people from entering, a protester was shot in the legs after which other demonstrators forced their way inside.

The unrest comes a day after representatives of Libya’s rival powers – one based in the East of the country and the other in the West – failed at UN-mediated talks in Geneva to reach an agreement on a constitutional framework for national elections.

After more than a decade of war, the country is once again split between competing administrations, sliding backward despite a year of tentative steps towards unity.

Oil-rich Libya has been wrecked by conflict since a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi in 2011, leading to a rise in rival governments.

Libya’s plan for elections last December 24th fell through after the interim administration based in Tripoli, headed by Prime Minister Abdelhamid Al-Dbaiba, failed to go ahead with the vote. The failure was a major blow to international efforts to end a decade of chaos in Libya.

The deteriorating economic situation was also a factor in Friday’s protests. In Tripoli, hundreds came out earlier in the day in opposition to the political crisis but also to rail against electricity shortages and rising prices for fuel and bread.