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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Hundreds decry corruption in rare protest in Libya's east

Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern parliament, has called an "urgent" cabinet meeting [Getty]

Date of publication: 11 September, 2020

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Protesters accuse the eastern government affiliated with Haftar of 'embezzling funds' intended for battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Libyans took to the streets of Benghazi overnight to protest against rising economic hardship, in a rare display of dissent in a city controlled by rogue General Khalifa Haftar.

The protests began late Thursday as people blocked multiple roads, with some burning tyres at intersections and hundreds demonstrating late into the night against power cuts, cash shortages and high fuel prices, according to an AFP journalist. 

The demonstrations mirrored those held two weeks ago in the capital Tripoli, seat of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), a rival power-base to Haftar's parallel eastern administration. 

Libya has endured almost a decade of violent chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The main military fault line is between forces loyal to the GNA and those backing Haftar, who launched an offensive to seize Tripoli last year. 

Haftar was beaten back earlier this year by Turkish-backed GNA forces. 

Since January, pro-Haftar groups have blocked the country's most important oil fields to demand what they call a fair share of oil revenues.

In a statement, the protesters in Benghazi called for an end to "corruption spreading in state institutions", accusing officials in the parallel eastern government of "embezzling funds" that had been allocated for battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a bid to placate the protesters, Aguila Saleh, speaker of the eastern parliament, called an "urgent meeting" with the parallel cabinet.

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