Libya government building torched


Protesters set fire to government’s headquarters in the Libyan city Benghazi, as rare demonstrations over living conditions and corruption continued in the east of the country for a third day.

Protests on Saturday also erupted in Al-Bayda, where government was previously based, in Sabha in the south and for the first time in Al-Marj, a stronghold of eastern based commander Khalifa Haftar, witnesses said.

Libya has been split into rival camps with parallel institutions in the east and west since 2014. Eastern Libya and much of the south is controlled by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), aligned with a government and a rump parliament based in the east.

A 14-month offensive by the LNA to take control of Tripoli from the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) crumbled in June, weakening Haftar.

Several hundred protesters turned out in eastern towns to demonstrate against the political elite and over deteriorating living conditions including lengthy power cuts and a banking crisis.

Similar protests broke outin late August in western Libya, where a new demonstration was planned for Sunday. Several dozen protesters gathered outside the GNA building by midday.

In Benghazi protesters, some armed, set fire to the government building, leaving its facade charred, according to witnesses and pictures posted on social media.

The building was constructed after the LNA took control of Benghazi in 2017 following a campaign that left parts of the port city in ruins. The fire was later brought under control.

The economic crisis across Libya and power cuts in the east is worsened by a blockade of most of the country’s oil facilities imposed by the LNA and its supporters since January.

The United States said Haftar agreed to end the blockade, but sources in eastern Libya said negotiations were ongoing.