Libya's electricity supply has deteriorated this year, leading to protests in Tripoli and Benghazi over poor living standards, amid a surge in cases of the novel coronavirus.

Members of the self-proclaimed eastern LNA special forces gather in the city of Benghazi, June 18, 2020.
Members of the self-proclaimed eastern LNA special forces gather in the city of Benghazi, June 18, 2020. (AFP)

Scores of people have protested in eastern Libya over power cuts and living conditions, witnesses said.

People were burning tyres and blocking roads on Thursday in an unusual public show of dissent in Benghazi city.

Benghazi is the base of warlord Khalifa Haftar and his militia, which is fighting in a civil war against the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, in the country's west.

Electricity supply has deteriorated this year, leading to protests last month in Tripoli and adding to poor living standards amid a surge in cases of the novel coronavirus.

READ MORE: Libya’s interior minister suspended amid protests

Blackouts and blockades

The most immediate cause of the worsening power supply is a lack of fuel for electricity plants. 

The militia has accused the Tripoli-based National Oil Corp (NOC) of not importing enough fuel to operate the plants.

The NOC last month warned of worse blackouts in eastern Libya, saying the shortage was caused by the militia's months-long blockade of oil and gas facilities. 

It said imports of diesel to operate the plants were causing it "severe financial difficulties."

The NOC has appealed for the militia to end the blockade, which began in January and has drastically cut production, leading to a near total eclipse of energy revenue - Libya's main source of foreign currency - this year.

Haftar's militia is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt.

READ MORE: Turkey renews support for Libya's UN-recognised govt

Peacemaking efforts

Earlier on Thursday, the European Union said its naval mission in the Mediterranean had stopped a ship heading from the UAE to Benghazi carrying jet fuel on suspicion of breaking an arms embargo.

Peacemaking efforts in Libya have accelerated since a major bout of warfare earlier this year ended in June with the frontlines solidifying near the city of Sirte.

Members of the two sides' rival parliamentary assemblies have been meeting this week in Morocco and said on Thursday they had agreed criteria for appointing senior figures in sovereign institutions, representing a step forward in the talks.

READ MORE: Libya rivals agree on 'compromise' in Morocco-brokered talks

Source: Reuters