António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, has asked for peace and calm, especially during the public protests that are generally increasing across Libya over power cuts and failure to hold elections. The poor economic conditions and the rise of oil and bread prices are also valid complaints.
With a loss of more than $3.5b from closures and a drop in gas output, Libya’s National Oil Corporation created a huge effect on the national power grid. In addition, the energy sector has also fallen into the hands of political divisions, which resulted in a wave of forced closures of oil facilities since April.
After a year of relative public calm, the Libyan population seems to have run out of patience. Protests have taken place in streets all around the country, especially in Tobruk, Benghazi and Tripoli, in the latter thousands screamed “we want lights to work” over and over.
Although the Libyan factions in Geneva, summoned by UN special adviser Stephanie Williams, made some progress last week, there wasn’t an agreement on a constitution for the national 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 Representative’s headquarters late yesterday in Tobruk are totally unacceptable,” Williams posted on Twitter on Saturday.
Last Friday night, the day after the failed Genova agreement, angry protesters broke into the parliament in Tobruk in an outburst from the humiliating living conditions that the population has been put under and the deteriorating political expression.
A statement by Guterres’s office states that “the secretary-general is following with concern the demonstrations that were held in several cities in Libya”.
In an attempt to ask for peaceful protests, the UN Secretary called on the public “to avoid acts of violence and on the security forces to exercise utmost restraint”.
The European Union envoy in Libya, Jose Sabadell, also called on protesters to “avoid any type of violence” and that these protests demonstrate that the citizens want “change through elections and their voices should be heard”.