Islamists demand fall of Libyan govt, end to oil blockades

December 6, 2013 22:54


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Around 300 Islamists took to the streets of the Libyan port of Benghazi on Friday demanding the fall of the government and an end to strikes and sit-ins stopping crude exports - the first sign of public opposition to the blockades in the oil-rich east.

A regional autonomy movement has seized the country's two biggest ports in Es-Sider and Ras Lanuf, both of them in eastern Libya, the source of 60 percent of the OPEC producer's oil wealth.

Other groups demanding a greater share of oil wealth and other rights have halted exports at Hariga port in Tobruk in the far east.

The actions have devastated Libya's oil trade, the main source of revenue and hard currency in a country still struggling with turmoil two years after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.

"We demand the liberation of oil exports," read a banner held up by Islamists gathered in Libya's second-largest city where gunshots and car bombs occur almost daily.

Ismail Salabi, a prominent Islamist militia leader, accused the strikers of devastating the economy. "We have many demands but the most important is to lift the port seizures," he said.

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