Libya relocates parliament after attack

Armed protesters killed a guard and injured others during the attack that forced the move to a hotel in Tripoli.

Parliament has relocated from the Libyan General National Congress to the Waddan hotel [AFP]

Libya’s parliament has moved to a five-star hotel in the capital Tripoli, a day after protesters stormed the building killing a guard and wounding six legislators.

Parliamentary sessions moved to the Waddan hotel on Monday, the day after after armed with knives and guns, dozens of angry protesters swept the parliament chamber while it was in session, shooting live rounds, throwing bottles at politicians and setting fire to furniture while chanting “Resign, resign”.

One guard was killed while trying to protect workers trapped inside, security official Essam al-Naass told the Associated Press news agency.

Two politicians were shot in their legs, one was injured with broken glass and others were beaten while trying to leave.

President and congress speaker Nouri Abu Sahmein denounced the attack in a televised statement, saying it targeted “the headquarters of legitimacy.”

He urged former rebel fighters who ousted Muammar Gaddafi to protect the capital and state institutions.

Anger at parliament

Elected after the 2011 uprising, the parliament has stirred popular anger by extending its mandate, which was meant to have expired on February 7, until the end of December.

Since then, hundreds of protesters have held daily demonstrations demanding the legislative body be dissolved.

The head of a panel tasked with preparing elections, Nuri al-Abbar, submitted his resignation on Sunday, saying Libya had to “end political tensions and restore order” before holding polls.

Some politicians have suggested the assault was triggered by an earlier attack on an anti-parliament sit-in where unidentified assailants kidnapped two of protesters.

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Souad Sultan, from the National Forces Alliance, said the kidnapping “triggered the violent reaction, which might have been exploited.”

The attack on parliament comes at a time of killings and counter-attacks mainly targeting foreigners, Christian migrants, pro-government militias and the nascent military.

Militia-backed factions

Tensions have been mounting between the country’s biggest political blocs, each backed by militias, in what has become a power struggle between Prime Minister Ali Zidan and Islamist factions trying to remove him.

Three years after the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is still ravaged with no strong central government or military.

Many Libyans blame militias and infighting inside parliament for a lack of progress in the transition towards democracy since the revolution.

Oil production, the country’s main source of income, has slowed as armed protesters and tribesmen have seized oil ports and fields to press political and financial demands.

Source: News Agencies