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Libyan minority ends blockage of gas pipeline to ease outages

Source: Reuters - Thu, 5 Dec 2013 04:58 PM
Author: Reuters
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TRIPOLI, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Members of a Libyan minority demanding more political rights have halted a blockage of a gas pipeline to ease power outages but warned of more action unless their demands were met, local leaders said on Thursday.

The Amazigh, or Berbers, had stopped shipment of gas supplies from the southwestern Wafa field for weeks to press government and parliament into guarantee their language in the constitution.

Under public pressure the Berber halted the protest to allow fresh gas supplies to a power station after outages shook Libya for days.

"We announce the suspension of the sit-in for the sake of peace of the Libyan people," Kheiri bin Khatif, a spokesman for the strikers, told reporters.

But he warned the Amazigh would continue campaigning for their rights, saying: "All options are open."

He said the strike had only diminished power supplies by 200 megawatts, 10 percent of what Libya lacked in electricity.

"This is the responsibility of the electricity minister," he said. "We've always had outages since the (2011) revolution."

Berber and Tibu, another minority blocking power supplies in another region, are demanding that their languages and cultural identities be guaranteed in a new constitution two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

They are also want a greater say in a special body that is drafting the constitution, demands hard to meet for Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who is weakened by political infighting.

The strikes come on top of widespread protests at oilfields and ports over higher pay and political rights, which have halted most exports and dried up state revenues.

Last week the government said power production had fallen to 4,600 megawatts, less than the summer level of almost 6,000 megawatts, when demand rises for air-conditioning. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by David Evans)

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