Libya’s Tobruk parliament has resigned after days of protests and the emergence of a new democratic council
Rabat – Libya’s Tobruk-based government has submitted its resignation after protests over declining living standards were met with live fire over the weekend. Major cities in eastern and western Libya witnessed large protests against its democratic institutions over declining public services, electricity shortages, and poor living conditions.
The protests and the violent response by security services prompted Libya’s eastern government to submit its resignation to Speaker Aguila Saleh Issa during an emergency session at the Tobruk-based House of Representatives.
While peace negotiations have been underway in Geneva and Bouznika in Morocco, Libyans in the country’s east protested the lack of public services provided by public institutions. Libya’s eastern-government, which was seen by many as a democratic front for Khalifa’s Haftar’s ambitions, is now negotiating peace while local Libyans appear to question its legitimacy.
Forces of the Eastern government in Al-Marj responded to the protests by opening fire on demonstrators. Five people participating in the protests were admitted to hospital with injuries, according to Libya’s Al-Ahrar TV. The United Nations mission in Libya expressed concern over the violent response to protests in Al-Marj.
As they called to account the eastern government’s democratic institutions, activists and academics announced the formation of the “High Council of Cyrenaica,” a new democratic movement in East Libya.
While large demonstrations occurred in Benghazi, protests also emerged against Libya’s UN-recognized government in Tripoli. Protesters gathered around the headquarters of the Presidential Council to protest the appointment of Mohammed Bayo as head of the country’s media regulation body. Bayo was part of the revolutionary guard corps, a paramilitary unit loyal to Muamar Gaddafi.
The Tripoli protests, a reaction to controversial appointments by Libya’s UN-recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, also demanded an improvement of living standards and better representation. The demonstrations featured many injured militia members who had fought to break the siege of Tripoli. The injured fighters were joined by academics, journalists and activists to demand an end to corruption and an acceleration of the process to establish a new constitution.
As the guns have silenced in Libya, Libyans appear to finally feel safe to vent their frustrations and demand political accountability. With their demands for better representation, protests are particularly calling into question the corruption and resource mismanagement ailing Libya’s two parliaments.
The movements reveal a genuine hunger for democracy but could undermine the mandate and legitimacy of the parties actively engaged in peace talks abroad.