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Libya: Tripoli residents continue general strike - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A picture taken on November 17, 2013, shows closed shops in the Libyan capital Tripoli (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA).

A picture taken on November 17, 2013, shows closed shops in the Libyan capital Tripoli (AFP PHOTO/MAHMUD TURKIA).

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Residents of the Libyan capital Tripoli continued a general strike for the second day on Monday, in protest against the actions of militias in the capital last week.

The strike began after a call for civil disobedience by Tripoli’s local council, following over 40 deaths in clashes between militias and protesters in the suburb of Gharghour, eastern Tripoli, on Friday.

Many public and private sector institutions closed their doors on Sunday, including schools, local markets and shops, while the main squares and streets appeared completely empty. Only health centers, bakeries, pharmacies, and gas stations remained open.

One Tripoli resident, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone, said: “Life is almost at a standstill, the sound of bombs and gunfire is almost gone and Tripoli is almost closed; government departments, schools, even shops in some streets are blocked by cement blocks.”

Another resident, also speaking by telephone, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The strike or disobedience happened automatically even if partially, with sadness prevalent around the city. Most shops closed their doors but a shopping center in the Dahmani area opened as normal, until pressure from the residents forced it to close.”

Reports said residents put up barriers and held a protest outside Libya’s interim parliament, the General National Congress (GNC). They called for the implementation of GNC Resolution 27, which called for the removal of all armed factions from Tripoli and their reformation under the umbrella of the defense and interior ministries. They also called for the perpetrators of last week’s violence to be prosecuted.

The GNC dedicated its morning session on Sunday to discussing the events which took place in Tripoli over the weekend. Members of the council condemned the killing of protesters and sent their condolences to their families.

Omar Humaidan, spokesman of the GNC, said discussions took place about adopting measures to prevent a recurrence of violence. He added that the GNC had agreed to summon the prime minister, ministers of defense and interior, the head of intelligence and the head of public security in Tripoli, to discuss the events and stress the necessity of clearing militias out of the capital.

Meanwhile, the deputy head of Libya’s intelligence service, Mostafa Nouh was kidnapped on Sunday evening. Libyan sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that he was seized as he arrived at Tripoli Airport from Turkey. Reuters news agency, however, quoted a security source as saying: “Mostafa Nouh, the head of the espionage unit at intelligence, was kidnapped in a car while leaving the airport. He had no guards at the time.”

He was reportedly released unharmed on Monday morning. The identity and affiliation of the gunmen who detained him remains unknown.

The transitional government, meanwhile, described the security situation as being “good and under control,” adding that all measures were taken by relevant authorities to secure the city. The government added that GNC decisions to remove all armed factions from Tripoli and integrate them into the state institutions were being implemented.

On Sunday, the General Staff of the Libyan army announced that the 161 Brigade from Tripoli had been tasked with the running of the headquarters in Gharghour vacated by armed militias, and securing them until the government can take control.

Additionally, on Monday morning, a GNC spokesman claimed that militias based in the city of Misrata, which have been blamed for last week’s violence, were in the process of withdrawing from the city, and were being replaced by troops from the Libyan army.