A devastating flood in war-torn Libya’s east has fomented popular discontent, which is however unlikely to threaten the status quo in the country split between two rival administrations, analysts say.
In the hard-hit Mediterranean coastal city of Derna, where most of the more than 3,300 deaths have been recorded since Storm Daniel hit on September 10, hundreds of people took to the streets on Monday to demand accountability.
The demonstrators chanted angry slogans against the eastern-based parliament speaker Aguila Saleh, calling him “The enemy of God” and shouting “Thieves and traitors must hang”.
Oil-rich Libya was torn by more than a decade of war and chaos after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and killing of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Saleh’s administration, backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, controls Libya’s disaster-hit east, while a UN-backed and nominally interim government in Tripoli is in power in the west.
“The people want parliament to fall,” chanted the protesters in Derna before vandalising and torching the mayor’s house.
The mayor, Abdulmonem al-Ghaithi, was sacked shortly afterward in a move that “makes sense”, according to Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya expert at British think-tank the Royal United Services Institute.
The authorities’ action against Ghaithi, whom residents blame for failing to warn them in time, also sends a message considering he is Aguila’s nephew, Harchaoui told AFP.
Parts of Derna, a city of 100,000 residents, have been almost entirely erased as two dams burst under the pressure of torrential rains caused by Storm Daniel. Thousands of people are still considered missing.