Protesters storm Libya’s eastern parliament building

Libya was divided between warring factions since 2014, following the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

The country’s interim prime minister, Abdulhamid Dbeibeh, head of the UN-backed Government of National Unity (GNU), is based in Tripoli in western Libya. The parliament building in Tobruk in the east of the country is the seat of a rival government led by Prime Minister Fati Bashag.

Libyan media, including LANA, the internationally recognized government’s official news agency, and Almarsad, a leading news agency, reported that protesters entered a building in Tobruk on Friday.

Demonstrations were held in several cities, including in Tripoli, against deteriorating living conditions and calls for the dissolution of political bodies, reports said.

Videos posted on social media show protesters inside the parliament building shouting “long live Libya”. Other videos show people picking up rubbish and tires in front of the building and setting them on fire. The building was empty when the protesters stormed it.

This image, taken in the early morning of July 2, shows a view of the Libyan parliament building in Tobruk.

Dbeibeh said in a Twitter post that he supported the demands of the protesters across the country.

“All [political] the authorities must leave, including the government, and this cannot be done except through elections,” Dbeibeh said, referring to the Bashag government.

“Parties obstructing the elections are known to the Libyan people and the very ones that blocked the budgets and shut down oil, which contributed to the aggravation of the living crisis,” he added.

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Dbeibeh was appointed following UN-brokered talks in Geneva last year. He was tasked with leading a transitional government for elections, but the process ended in disarray late last year over disagreements over electoral rules, including the legitimacy of his own candidacy. According to his government, he survived an assassination attempt Earlier this year.

After elections were postponed in December, Libya’s eastern parliament appointed Bashaga as leader of the country.

Dbeiba does not recognize Bashaga’s premiership, and Bashaga accuses Dbeiba of losing his mandate after the postponement of the vote.

On Friday, the GNU Home Office released a statement saying all Libyans have the right to protest as long as they are peaceful demonstrations and “in accordance with the laws.”