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Libyan parliament agrees on direct presidential poll as violence continues
August 13, 2014, 2:29 am

A soldier surveys an army barracks destroyed by artillery shelling in Tripoli [Xinhua]

A soldier surveys an army barracks destroyed by artillery shelling in Tripoli [Xinhua]

The new Libyan parliament has voted in favor of holding direct presidential elections for the first time since the ouster of the late dictator Muammar Qaddafi in a bid to quell ongoing violence between rival militias.

The violence in Libya, which has claimed hundreds of lives in the past few weeks, forced the parliament, known as the House of Representatives, to meet in Tobruk rather than the capital Tripoli.

On Tuesday, the interior ministry reported that Tripoli police chief Muhammad Suwaysi was shot in a suburb of the capital. Two of his aides were abducted, the report said.

Last week, dozens of civilians were killed and injured when rival militias shelled neighborhood near the airport, which has been the focus of much fighting since late June.

On August 1, China evacuated hundreds of its nationals from Libya due to the worsening security situation just a week after Washington closed its embassy in the Libyan capital.

US embassy staff were transported to Tunisia in a convoy under US military escort.

The UN withdrew its staff when the airport was closed in mid-July saying they could not operate while the airport remained closed.

Nevertheless, the UN mission in Libya on Tuesday condemned the violence that has escalated between rival militias and demanded on all factions to respond positively to its mediation efforts.

“The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) strongly condemns the continuing battles in Tripoli, despite the repeated official and international calls for an immediate ceasefire and to refrain from the use of force to resolve political differences,” a statement said.

“The Mission deplores the rise in the number of civilian casualties and expresses deep concern about the shortages in medical supplies, the displacement of thousands of families, the huge destruction of residences and infrastructure and the halt in economic activity,” it added.

No date has been set yet for the presidential election.

Source: Agencies

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