The Stability Support Apparatus affiliated with the Presidential Council reaches an agreement with angry protesters against the decision to annex the city’s commercial port to the naval military base under the control of Turkish forces.
The city of Al-Khums in northwestern Libya witnessed two days of furious protests against a sudden and controversial decision to annex the city’s commercial port to the naval military base controlled by Turkish forces. The Presidential Council intervened on Monday evening to resolve the standoff by reaching an agreement with the demonstrators, leading to the reopening of the road to the port.
The outgoing government of national unity led by Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh had directed a letter to the relevant authorities in the maritime port of Al-Khums, demanding the evacuation of ships and equipment as a prelude to its annexation to the naval military base controlled by Turkey.
However, this decision was met with wide rejection from the local population in the city. They began protesting since last Sunday, with many of them spending their nights in front of the port in an atmosphere of anger. They set tires on fire and blocked the coastal road in the city, as well as the Sugh Al-Khums bridge.
They also blocked the passage of vehicles, threatening to escalate by closing the K’aam gate, the Military Police gate, and the power station, if the government does not reverse its decision and does not withdraw the armed formations coming from outside their city, according to posts circulating on Facebook.
The protesters argue that transforming their city’s port into a military base will cut off sources of income for 5,000 families in several areas: Al-Khums, Al-Jawhawat, Siliin, Al-Amamira, Mergnha, Al-Qarah Boli Qasr Khayar, Tarhuna, and Wadi Ka’am. They considered the government decision “arbitrary” and not in the interest of the region and the country, which will further expand the presence of foreign forces.
Parliament has also entered the crisis, showing solidarity with the people of Al-Khums. It announced its rejection of the Tripoli government’s decision to annex the port to the military base. Parliament’s President, Aguila Saleh, called on the Presidential Council to “take responsibility and instruct the military prosecutor to cancel the decision,” deeming it “void and inadmissible to continue.”
Meanwhile, the Libyan Ports Company – Al-Khums Branch published images on Facebook showing ongoing unloading operations for container and bulk cargo ships in the port.
In an attempt to contain the crisis, the Libyan Presidential Council intervened through the Stability Support Apparatus on Monday evening. It announced that it had reached an agreement with the protesters in Al-Khums (135 kilometers east of Tripoli), resulting in the opening of the main road and the removal of all obstacles.
The Apparatus issued a statement on its official Facebook page, thanking the young people of Al-Khums for their positive response.
The Stability Support Apparatus also emphasized its support for the right to peaceful protest, calling for reason to prevail by resorting to legal means provided by the law to demand legitimate rights. The details of the agreement reached between the Apparatus and the protesters were not mentioned, whether it entails the cancellation of the decision to annex the port to the naval base or promises to consider their demands while temporarily halting the evacuation of ships and equipment from the port.
On Sunday, an extensive emergency meeting was held at the Al-Khums municipality to discuss the limits of the port and the implications of stopping and annexing the port to the naval base, based on the letter that ordered the evacuation of the western basin within a maximum period of 48 hours.
The meeting included the dean of the municipal council members, the Al-Khums Social Council, the Al-Khums maritime drivers’ union, and the Director of Human Resources Management at the Libyan Ports Company. An agreement was reached to form a committee to monitor and resolve port-related issues.
The municipal media office stated that the port is an important economic destination for the municipality, providing services to citizens from inside and outside the municipality and offering job opportunities to citizens.
The port of the city is one of the most significant ports and economic trade destinations in western Libya, providing services to citizens and offering job opportunities for them.