Accessibility links

Libya's New MPs Meet Amid Ongoing Violence

  • VOA News

Sirte, Libya

Sirte, Libya

Libya's newly-elected parliament held its first meeting Saturday in the eastern city of Tobruk, as fighting raged between armed factions in Benghazi and the capital, Tripoli.

More than 150 members of parliament gathered under tight security for the meeting, which was headed by interim speaker Abu Bakr Baiera.

Baiera said parliament's official opening session was postponed until Monday, as the difficult security situation prevented some lawmakers from attending Saturday's gathering.

Reports indicate the lawmakers who did not show included Islamists — a possible sign of continuing political divisions.

In the latest violence, new flames erupted at a fuel depot near the airport in Tripoli, sending dark smoke billowing into the air, after a rocket hit a tank. It was the second time in a week the depot was hit. Another rocket ignited a huge blaze there on July 27.

A battle for control of the airport has raged since July 13, killing dozens of people.

The surge in violence has renewed fears that Libya is plunging deeper into civil strife and forced several countries to evacuate their diplomats and close their embassies.

Britain's ambassador to Libya, Michael Aron, tweeted Friday that his embassy was suspending operations and temporarily moving its offices to Tunisia. The United States, United Nations and Turkey had already removed their staff from Libya. Other countries have recommended that Libya-based nationals leave immediately.

In neighboring Egypt, President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi raised concerns about Libya's deteriorating security situation and called on the international community to help restore order.

He told a news conference Saturday that as violence intensifies, the international community and especially Europe have moral, humanitarian and security responsibilities to act. He added that there should be an international strategy to confront the spread of terrorism in the region.

Sissi noted that Egypt is facing a growing threat from its border with Libya, due to the “absence of security forces on the Libyan side.”

Chaos has engulfed Libya since the 2011 civil war that ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.

Show comments