Libya protests: Sarraj under pressure to leave

Libyans have found a new target to vent their frustrations after years of life short of social services they had…

Libyans have found a new target to vent their frustrations after years of life short of social services they had taken for granted under the rule of long-term strongman Muammar Gaddafi.This target is no other than Fayez al-Sarraj, who heads Libya’s internationally backed Government of National Unity.

Since Sunday protesters have been taking to the streets of the capital, chanting “leave, leave, leave” to the man who is the face of the new Libya post-Gaddafi.

To disenchanted Libyans, Sarraj embodies Libya’s hapless situation and demanded his immediate departure and what they regard as his inept internationally backed government.

A nine-year instability compounded by a spike in coronavirus cases (over 12, 000 cases) in recent weeks have crippled public life in  Libya.

Social services have ground ot a halt in much of Libya where disparate militias roam its desert competing for control of the country’s oil industry.

There are daily queues for everything – money from banks, bread, fuel and other basic commodities.

Other cities in the west of the country like Sabrata and Mazda have since then taken a cue from the capital to demand Sarraj and his entourage to leave, apparently losing confidence over his ability to deliver.

Discontent on the streets has sent Sarraj into panic mode, and for a fleeting moment considered reshuffling his government.

A political observer who spoke to the African Press Agency on condition of anonymity says the protest is morphing into a civil disobedience movement as Sarraj’s detractors give him an ultimatum to leave within 24 hours.

According to him just as they had struggled to handle the political and security challenges of Libya after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, Sarraj and his government are finding it difficult to respond effectively to the protests. 

There are wild theories about Sarraj loyalists infiltrating the ranks of the protesters with the help of Turkish intelligence to neutralise the protests by a series of innocuous demands which would not threaten his position.

A Sarraj speech about the recent events in his country points to a policy of appeasing the protesters by filling his cabinet with new technocrats based on competence and a reputation for being incorruptible.

This does not seem to be striking an agreeable chord with the protest movements whose leaders dismissed his speech as “lacking in imagination and tangible solutions”.

Al-Somoud militia spokesman Ihmida al-Jarou, launched into a tirade against Sarraj calling him a liar and unfit to lead a municipality.

So what next for Sarraj and his band of administrators?

Only time will tell in the next intervening few weeks.