TRIPOLI - Libya's Berber minority will boycott a committee to draft a new national constitution, Berber leaders and the election commission said, in a move that complicates attempts to end oil and gas protests.
Members of the Berber, or Amazigh, minority have halted gas exports to Italy and also stopped a part of Libyan oil exports by occupying the Mellitah port in western Libya to demand more rights for their long-oppressed people.
The closure of the Mellitah complex, co-operated by Italy's ENI and Libya's National Oil Corp (NOC), has complicated the government's attempts to recover oil production, already curtailed for months by protests at eastern ports.
Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi two years ago, the Amazigh have demanded their language to be guaranteed in the constitution which will be drafted by a special body in a step in the country's transition to democracy.
But government attempts to end the Mellitah protest appear to be stalling after the Amazigh High Council, which represents their interests - boycotted elections to create the 60-member national committee drafting the new constitution.