East Libya government resigns amid protests

CAIRO (AP) — An interim government in eastern Libya resigned on Sunday amid street protests that erupted across the divided country over dire living conditions, officials said.

Prime Minister Abdallah al-Thani submitted the resignation of his government to eastern-based House of Representatives Speaker Aguila Saleh, said government’s spokesman Ezzel-Deen al-Falih.

Parliament spokesman Abdallah Abaihig confirmed the government’s resignation, saying lawmakers would review it in their next meeting. No date set for the session.

The Parliament last Friday accused the Central Bank and government in the capital of Tripoli of “plundering” the country and neglecting the east, in apparent efforts to deflect blame for the deterioration of public services.

Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled long-time ruler Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. The country has since split between rival east- and west-based administrations, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

Protesters set fire to tyres in Benghazi, Libya. PHOTO: AP

Both the Parliament and al-Thani’s government, which is not internationally recognised, are allied with self-styled Libyan Arab Armed Forces Commander Khalifa Hifter.

Hundreds of young Libyans flooded the streets of Benghazi and other eastern cities in the past couple of days in a spontaneous outburst of anger over the area’s crippling electricity shortages.

Protesters in eastern Libya set piles of tyres a blaze and blocked traffic in several major roads. On Saturday, protesters attempted to storm a security headquarters in eastern town of Marj.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said at least one civilian was reportedly killed and three others were wounded.

It called for “a thorough and immediate” investigation into “the reported excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrations” and the release of a number of detained protesters.