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Hundreds of Libyans protested in the devasted eastern city of Derna this week to demand an international investigation and government accountability following deadly floods that killed tens of thousands of people in the region, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Last week, Storm Daniel caused major floods in the war-torn North African nation, with thousands missing and the exact death toll yet to be determined.
The storm resulted in the collapse of two dams near Derna, causing devastation across the city and leaving many residents homeless.
On Monday, hundreds demonstrated outside a mosque in the city about the perceived mismanagement and corruption that resulted in the catastrophe. Protesters called for the United Nations and other Libyan government agencies to thoroughly investigate how the disaster happened, and hold officials accountable.
Demonstrators noted that these dams had not been properly maintained for more than two decades, despite government funds allocated for their care.
The disaster and subsequent protests come as Libya continues to grapple with a political crisis. The country has been ruled by two rival administrations in the years following the ouster and death of autocratic leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The United Nations-backed Government of National Unity is led by Prime Minister Abdul-Hamid Dbeibah and operates from Tripoli in northwest Libya. The eastern faction, meanwhile, led by commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army, backs the eastern-based parliament, presided over by rival Prime Minister Osama Hamad.
Analysts said the Derna protests are significant because some demonstrators called for political change. Libyan authorities on both sides are known to closely monitor and swiftly repress dissent, according to the Journal.
While this week’s demonstrations did not take aim at Haftar, protesters primarily focused their anger on the eastern-based parliament and its speaker, Aguila Saleh.
Saleh and other officials rejected allegations of corruption and mismanagement.