Protests erupted in the Libyan city of Derna: Hundreds of people expressed their anger against the government on Monday and demanded accountability, a week after floods that killed thousands and destroyed entire neighborhoods.
Late in the evening, protesters set fire to the home of Derna’s mayor, Abdulmenam al-Ghaiti, during the floods, the director of his office confirmed to Reuters.
Eastern Libyan government minister Hichem Abu Chkiwat announced that Ghaith had been suspended. Reuters news agency could not immediately reach Gaither for comment.
Monday’s protest is the first mass demonstration since the floods that devastated Derna, when two dams in the hills outside the city failed during a powerful storm and a devastating torrent.
Demonstrators also attacked officials during the demonstration in front of the Sahaba Mosque, including the head of the eastern Libyan parliament, Agila Saleh. Some sat on the roof in front of its golden dome, Derna’s iconic monument. The eastern Libyan government said Prime Minister Osama Hamad had dismissed all members of the Derna Municipality Council and sent them under investigation.
“Eagle, we don’t love you. All Libyans are brothers,” the protesters chanted, calling for national unity in a country politically torn by more than a decade of conflict and chaos.
Mansour, a student at the protest, told Reuters he wanted an immediate investigation into the collapse of the dam, which “lost thousands of our loved ones”. Another protester, Taha Miftah, said the demonstration was a message that “governments have failed to manage the crisis”, adding that parliament was particularly to blame, and called for an international investigation into the disaster and “reconstruction under international supervision”.
The total death toll is not yet known and official figures vary widely. According to the Libyan Red Crescent, at least 11,300 people have been killed and more than 10,000 are missing. The World Health Organization confirmed 3,922 deaths.
Last week, Saleh tried to deflect responsibility from the authorities, describing the floods as an “unprecedented natural disaster” and saying people should not focus on what could or should have been done. But journalists focused on early warnings, including an academic paper published last year by a hydrologist that showed the city’s vulnerability to flooding and the urgent need to maintain it.
Derna is in eastern Libya, a part of the country controlled by military commander Khalifa Haftar and overseen by a government set up alongside the internationally recognized administration in Tripoli in the west.
Source: El Diario