Libyan youth protest energy firm for jobs

Libyan youth protest energy firm for jobs

BENGHAZI - Reuters
Libyan youth protest energy firm for jobs

Workers from the Arabian Gulf Oil Co gather at the locked main entrance to the company during a protest against embezzlement in Benghazi on April 23. REUTERS photo

Protesters gathered outside Libya’s largest oil company for a second day yesterday demanding more transparency over how the country’s new rulers are spending its money and more jobs for the youth.

Spokesman for the Arabian Gulf Oil Company (Agoco) Abdel Jalil Mayuf said the protesters were preventing employees from entering the building, attempting to halt work for a second day in a row.

“We cannot get inside. They are protesting against the authorities, they want money,” he told Reuters yesterday.

Highlighting the continued risks months after the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, the group of 50 protesters, some of them unemployed youth who had fought in last year’s war, blocked the Agoco office entrance gate in the eastern city of Benghazi. Their demands, which have been echoed at previous protests in Benghazi, also included the sacking of Gadhafi-era officials.

Oil represents the bulk of Libya’s economy and the North African country is close to returning to pre-war production of 1.6 million barrels per day.

Discontent has been simmering in Benghazi, the cradle of the Libyan revolt, for a while. In January, protesters stormed the headquarters of the ruling National Transitional Council while its chairman was still in the building.

The interim government appointed in November is leading Libya towards elections in June but is struggling to restore services and impose order on a country awash with weapons.

Agoco, which produced 425,000 barrels per day of crude oil before the war, gained increasing independence last year and acted as the de facto state oil company of the Libyan uprising as international sanctions imposed during the conflict prevented dealings with the National Oil Corporation.