As Tripoli anti-corruption protests escalate, GNA announces curfew to contain Covid-19

FILE PHOTO: People are seen at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli, Libya January 16, 2020. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord has imposed a total curfew in the Libyan capital with the stated aim of halting the spread of Covid-19, though the decision comes in the wake of widespread protests against corruption and poor living conditions.

The total curfew, imposed on Wednesday, lasts for four days, and is set to be followed by a 10-day 9pm-6am curfew whilst keeping a 24-hour curfew on Fridays and Saturdays. During the curfew, people can only go out to purchase essential food or medicine.

However, the decision has angered protesters who insist that the real motive was to stop the demonstrations to continue. A number of demonstrators defied the order and gathered in Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square, only to be reportedly dispersed by armed group.

The GNA and the rival Tobruk-based House of Representatives announced a ceasefire last week as fighting died down between the two warring sides. Earlier in the year, the HoR-backed Libyan National Army was at Tripoli’s door, but had been repelled by the GNA with the help of Turkish military support.

But the GNA has required the support of armed groups that often act with impunity to maintain its control, including in Tripoli itself.