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Tripoli demonstrations 'on going'

September 18, 2018 at 2:18 am

On Sunday, dozens of citizens organised a demonstration in Tripoli regarding living conditions.

Head of the Presidential Council of the Libyan Government of National Accord, Fayez Al-Sarraj, issued a set of resolutions on the implementation of security arrangements in the Libyan capital, such as the release of some prisoners, and the handing over of Mitiga International Airport to the Ministry of the Interior. He also revealed expected ministerial amendments and the imposition of new sanctions.

Ongoing demonstrations

Eyewitnesses said in press statements that “the demonstrators stressed their insistence on continuing the protest until the overthrow of the Head of the Presidential Council of the Libyan Government of National Accord, Fayez Al-Sarraj, shouting slogans: “Go away, Head of the Presidential Council, the Libyan people are suffering.”

Eyewitnesses stressed that “this march will continue, and will soon turn into a large-scale uprising” against what they called the “government of the Muslim Brotherhood” and militias.

The demonstrators expressed their “rejection of the deteriorating living conditions in Tripoli, the Government of National Accord’s inability to achieve stability amid the militias’ control over the bodies of the government, the increasing rates of theft and kidnapping and the power cuts for long hours,” as they put it.

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The protesters in Tripoli called for “the provision of a strong army and police to save the country from armed groups,” and to hold accountable those they described as “the ISIS (Daesh) members of public funds.”

The cities of the western area in Libya in general, and the city of Tripoli, in particular, have been suffering from an electricity crisis, the deterioration of services and the lack of security, especially after the recent battles between armed militias in Tripoli, which resulted in numerous victims.

Observers confirmed that “the protests that broke out in the neighbourhoods of Tripoli could turn into a popular uprising against the difficult living conditions, as well as the presence of armed militias that are controlling the state’s bodies in the Libyan capital.”

Al-Sarraj’s resolutions

According to a statement issued by his information bureau: all detained people in prisons, detention centres and other places of detention, whose detention periods have exceeded the legal terms, would be released (excluding those accused in cases of terrorism, murder, armed robbery, banditry, and drug dealing and those in Mitiga Air Base Prison).

Al-Sarraj’s second resolution was the announcement of the names of the officers to be in charge of the chairmanship and membership of the Security Arrangements Committee, which will develop measures to strengthen the cease-fire in the south of Tripoli and develop a plan to secure the capital.

Al-Sarraj called on the Committee to develop plans to replace the armed militias with government forces from the army, police, or the security bodies according to jurisdiction in the vital installations. He called for the necessary steps to be taken to communicate with the leaders of the armed formations to ensure the rapid transition to state-led security authorities.

According to the resolution, the Committee would also be tasked to develop a plan to store and reduce arms and ammunition that are not regulated under the law and the state’s control in Tripoli, unusually heavy and medium weapons.

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After communicating with the government, Al-Sarraj granted the Commission the authority to request the necessary international assistance to develop and implement the security arrangements.

These resolutions came after Tripoli has witnessed, during the recent period, clashes between competing armed groups for power and concentration points in the capital. The clashes later stopped under UN intervention that resulted in the announcement of a cease-fire on 4 September.

In his third resolution, Al-Sarraj demanded the Minister of the Interior in the Government of National Accord, Abdessalam Ashour, to take over Mitiga International Airport, which is currently secured by Special Deterrence Forces, and to form government police forces which would be tasked with defending the facility.

Al-Sarraj also announced making cabinet reshuffles and appointing new senior military and security officials within the next few days without mentioning a specific date.

Al-Sarraj said that “the government is envisaging efficiency and proximity to actualities in its upcoming amendments so that we can interact positively with the events and draw on current lessons”. As such, he admitted the presence of weaknesses regarding some government departments and ministers.

During his review of the current political and security situation in Libya, accompanied by several mayors, Al-Sarraj confirmed his resilience to implement the necessary security arrangements and to contain armed formations within the official security and military structures.

He explained that the military college would receive, next October, the first batches of armed formations interested in training. The elements of such armed groups will adhere to a framework of security arrangements, by the training plan process, to accommodate them within established military and security services, both legally and professionally. Thus Al-Sarraj pointed out that the training will be initiated in Tripoli first, and then extended to various Libyan cities.

Al-Sarraj referred to “the presence of some parties which use armed troops in Libyan lands to serve personal interests.” He revealed the upcoming issuance of “sanctions list which will include names of prominent Libyan figures”; without specifying the names targeted by the sanctions, and whether the penalties will be released by a local or international judicial authority.

He stressed that “the opportunities available to destructive forces began to diminish gradually,” concluding that “the surfacing political scene will be different from the one which existed in the past.”

Clashes in Tripoli

The Clashes between rival armed groups in Tripoli have resulted in declaring a state of emergency by the UN-backed government.

In theoru the UN-backed government controls Tripoli, while armed groups are controlling the majority of the Libyan lands.

Violence broke out in the country when an armed troop from the south of Tripoli attacked southern areas of the capital, leading to clashes with a locally armed formation in favour of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).

The GNA described the fights as an “attempt to block the peaceful political transition” in the country, adding that “the authorities cannot remain silent about the attacks on Tripoli and its suburbs, which violate the security of the capital as well as citizens’ safety”.

The militias of the Government of National Accord

Ibrahim Belkacem, a Libyan politician, described the incidents in Tripoli as armed clashes between the armies of the Government of National Accord, headed by Fayez Al-Sarraj

Belkacem added to Masr Al-Arabia newspaper that the number of casualties was estimated by more than 50 so far, and the number is expected to increase in the future.

He stressed that despite the international condemnation of the armed conflicts of Tripoli coming from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, France, Britain, Italy, and the United States, there are international actors who are secretly manipulating the situation.

Belkacem said that Italy supports the clashes currently taking place in Tripoli, stressing at the same time that the Libyan GNA performs a substantial role in the ongoing conflict.

As for the reasons that led Italy and the GNA to create a state of chaos in Tripoli, the Libyan politician said that the goal is clear, as both parties are trying to disrupt the elections.

At the end of his speech, Belkacem summed up what is happening in Tripoli saying that “the head of Libya’s Presidential Council has risen to the rank of a militia commander and has incited the clashing parties to fight to guarantee his continuity in office.”.

Accordingly, the Libyan police stated that about 400 prisoners escaped from a prison near the Libyan capital, amid violent clashes between armed groups in the city.

The security force explained that “the detainees were able to open the doors by force and leave Ain Zara prison.”

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AFP  reported, that the correctional officers feared for their lives and could not prevent the incident.

The ongoing fights between rival armed groups in Tripoli have led to declaring a state of emergency by the UN-backed government.

Many prisoners held in Ain Zara prison, southeast of Tripoli, are supporters of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and were reportedly convicted of murder during the uprising against Gaddafi’s regime in 2011.

Libya has been plagued by chaos since NATO-backed armed groups ousted Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in October 2011.