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Thu, 14 Nov 2019 07:32 GMT

Yellow Vests Mobility: A Cause for Concern in Libya

Politics

Abdelsattar Ibrahim

Sat, 15 Dec 2018 18:27 GMT

Fabric merchants in Libya's capital Tripoli have embarked on putting up thousands of yellow vests for sale in preparation for demonstrations scheduled for 20 December, replicating the yellow vest protests in France and elsewhere in Europe.

Fayez al-Sarraj, Prime Minister of the UN-backed Reconciliation government, has issued instructions to security commanders in Tripoli to take all necessary precautionary measures in response to the demonstrations.

The yellow vest wave in Europe has raised concern across the Mediterranean states. Mahmoud, 55, a shopkeeper in a Tripoli suburb said, "There has been sudden great demand on yellow vests. In the past, we used to sell only a few of these vests to janitors and cyclists. As a result of such a sudden demand, the price of one yellow vest has been raised in the past few days to more than US$5 instead of US$2.

In several Western European countries like France, it is mandatory for car drivers to have such a yellow vest to wear in case the car breaks down on a highway, a rule that does not exist in Libya.

Mahmoud added that now yellow vests have become a new symbol worldwide of objections to government decisions.

In the back streets of the Qerqarish suburb in Tripoli, political activist Saeed, 29, has gathered a large number of supporters, and said "We are prepared for the demonstrations scheduled for Thursday and Friday, 20 and 21 December."

In a Tripoli dominated by armed militias, a huge movement is now demanding reform of the country’s economic and security situation. Saeed himself used to lead demonstrations from Qerqarish to the city's Al-Shohada main square under the name the white flag movement.

There are other activists who object to the existence or even the extension of the reconciliation government by the United Nations mission. Those activists are raising the banner "No Extension." However, politics in Tripoli are now extremely dangerous on all sides because of the spread of armed militias, according to Ezz Eddin Aqil, head of the national coalition party.

Libya, in general, and Tripoli, in particular, are suffering from poor living conditions such as a lack of basic supplies, fuelled by insolvency in banks, and the warring armed groups' domination of several districts in the capital city.

In the past few days, state security have noted a great demand for yellow vests, particularly in the suburbs away from the reach of either the government or various armed militias.

Demonstrations in Europe have been marked by the wearing of yellow vests as a sign of objection to the soaring fuel prices, which soon shifted into wide-ranging complaints about various social ills, including growing inequalities, and a call for social justice.

Senior officials in the Libyan capital city, have held meetings to discuss the possible spread of the yellow vest protest having reached Libya. To this effect, a security official said, "It occurs to us that most White Flag and No Extension activists are behind the potential yellow vest mobility."

Abdullah, 47, an employee in the ambulance authority, said "I haven't received my salary for three months, and will participate in the White yellow vest demonstrations. We will raise our voices peacefully to let the world hear us."

A source in police headquarters said that it was difficult to speculate what was going to happen. However, he added, "If we let that mobility grow, it may turn into a real threat and chaos, and the risk is if we stood against it, it may elicit people's sympathy with the activists calling for yellow vest demonstrations in the coming days."


Middle East Africa