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Armed groups deploy in the Libyan capital – Africa – World


File photo, Soldiers in vans equipped with machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons were deployed to Tripoli. AFP

As of Tuesday morning, images posted online showed a tank and vans equipped with machine guns in the Fornaj district, near the university campus, where some roads were blocked by piles of sandbags guarded by gunmen.

Schools and the University of Tripoli closed as a precaution, but there was no exchange of gunfire, residents said.

The mobilisations came as the Libyans await the official announcement of the postponement of the presidential elections, scheduled for Friday.

The vote aims to crown a United Nations-led peace process aimed at bringing the oil-rich North African country through a decade of conflict since the country’s uprising in 2011.

But the electoral process has been undermined by divisions over its legal basis and candidacies from divisive figures.

No party has officially announced that the elections will be delayed. But this is widely seen as inevitable, in part due to the difficulty of holding a free and fair vote given the fragile security situation on the ground.

On Tuesday afternoon, the roads in Tripoli that had been closed were reopened and fewer armed men were on the streets, an AFP correspondent said.

“Risk of clashes”

University professor Jamila Rizgalla told AFP that “teachers, staff and students have been urged to evacuate campus and leave immediately. Classes have been suspended and the university has been closed. due to security tensions “in the neighboring districts of Ain Zara and Fornaj.

The Tripoli-based Libyan unity government, which took power in March with a mandate to bring the country to election, did not immediately comment on the developments.

Armed groups also took to the streets of Tripoli last week after the unity government sacked Abdulbasit Marwan, a senior military official backed by several of Tripoli’s powerful armed groups.

The United Nations mission in Libya, UNSMIL, has expressed concern about armed deployments, warning that such mobilization “creates tensions and increases the risk of clashes that could degenerate into conflict”.

In a statement, he called for any disagreement to be resolved through dialogue, “especially at this stage when the country is navigating a difficult and complex electoral process that should usher in a peaceful transition.”

The Libyan capital is under the control of a set of armed groups affiliated with the ministries of defense and the interior.

The country has seen a decade of violence since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that overthrew and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Myriads of armed groups, foreign forces and mercenaries filled the void.

Libya has been relatively calm since a historic ceasefire between the eastern and western camps in October 2020, but despite high hopes for peace, the UN has struggled to overcome deep divisions and country complexes.

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