3 March 2014

Libya: Protestors Attack Libyan Congress

Photo: Jorge Vitoria Rubio/IRIN
Graffiti reads: "This is the war I was waiting for"

Benghazi — Two members of Libya's General National Congress (GNC) were shot by demonstrators who stormed parliament on Sunday (March 2nd), AFP reported.

GNC President Nouri Abu Sahmein said the MPs' wounds were not life-threatening but condemned what he termed a "flagrant aggression on the seat of legitimate sovereignty".

He vowed to continue the democratic transition, adding that the legislature was examining a roadmap for the handover of power "as quickly as possible" to an elected body.

Congress spokesman Omar Humaidan confirmed a number of deputies were wounded by intruders during the raid. The assailants also vandalised and burned the outer side of the parliament building.

Mohamed Wendi, a youth from the "No to Extension" movement, denied that the intruders were from his group, which he said was peaceful and was launched on February 7th.

"They would have done the same thing and toppled the parliament even if we had left before the end of our mandate," said Congressman Alaa Maqrif. "We are convinced that there are those who fight the GNC and try to prevent it from completing its task. In fact there are some who are now trying to block the establishment of the constitution. We are trying to reach the second stage but they do not want Libya to enter the stage of stability."

Later on Sunday, the head of the High National Elections Commission (HNEC), Nuri al-Abbar, handed in his resignation to the GNC.

Nibras Attia, a 34-year-old engineer, said he was against the use of violence but added that he believed the actions of congress were "behind what happened in terms of street frustration".

"It was expected and I think that if the Congress wants to save its face, it would suspend all its activities and propose the roadmaps it has prepared," Attia said.

Dr Ibrahim Gouider, a 60-year-old writer said, "Yes, the GNC failed and is slow in selecting a legitimate alternative to take over, but to deal with it by abuse and vandalism is unacceptable."

"What happened today in the GNC has nothing to do with the extension but is the work of gangs and a settling of scores," commented Hafedh Muammar. "By all means the GNC failed and did not provide tangible results, but we cannot support what is happening, nor this shameful act."

Demonstrations against violence spread in Benghazi

The violence in the capital came as the wave of assassinations continued in Benghazi.

Gunmen shot dead a French engineer in Libya's second city on Sunday. He was reportedly working to expand the Benghazi Medical Centre.

In separate incidents, a member of the Saiqa Forces died from his injuries after a car bomb explosion, while gunmen severely injured a Kadhafi-era security official. Gunmen also opened fire on and seriously injured an Egyptian, working at a market in the Majouri district, just one week after the slaughter of seven Egyptian Copts.

Meanwhile, security services found the bodies of six young men, shot dead in three different areas of Benghazi.

The on-going rash of attacks led Benghazi youths to rally last Wednesday, burning tyres and blockading streets. The protests were repeated in other eastern cities, from Shahat to Tobruk.

"The capital of the revolution is also a bleeding wound with assassinations, killings, and kidnappings. The day will come when it will be healed," said Imran Khalid, 29-year-old lawyer.

Nasser Alamrna, a 24-year-old salesman said, "Terrorists are not expert in making cars, but masters in rigging them and not expert in building a state but masters in fragmenting it."

"We demand international protection for the city of Benghazi as long as the Libyan state with all its components is unable to offer this," Fathi Dhreef said.

Salwa Boukaiqis, a human rights activist and lawyer, also suggested Libya turn to outside aid.

"First we must declare Benghazi and Derna stricken cities. Secondly we must turn to the United Nations and seek protection given that Libya is still under Chapter VII. The other thing we must consider is anger and the youth of Benghazi are reacting to what is happening," she said.

Amira Suleiman, a 24-year-old student, said, "A state of anger is sweeping Benghazi and youth are walking on hot tin, and dozens of angry youths are blockading the streets of the main city after the significant deterioration in the security situation and the occurrence of four murders so far today!"

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