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Armed groups deploy around key sites in Libyan capital

By AFP - Dec 16,2021 - Last updated at Dec 16,2021

TRIPOLI — Armed groups deployed in the streets of Libya's capital Tripoli overnight into Thursday, in an apparent show of force following the sacking of a senior military official.

"Armed groups under the authority of different military and security forces in Tripoli deployed heavily around sensitive sites in the capital," a military official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

He said the move "came a few hours after General Abdulkader Mansour took up his post as commander of the Tripoli region, on the orders of the Presidential Council", which officially leads the North African country's military.

Mansour replaces Abdulbasit Marwan, who has held the post for several years and is backed by several of Tripoli's powerful armed groups.

Images posted overnight on social media showed dozens of armed men, presented as supporters of Marwan, as well as armoured vehicles, taking positions outside the headquarters of interim Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah and other key buildings.

The military official who spoke to AFP played down the operation, saying it had been carried out by units charged with securing state institutions and that they had not surrounded the sites.

Libya has seen a decade of chaos since the overthrow of Muammar Qadhafi in a 2011 revolt, and today its capital is under the control of an array of armed groups affiliated with the defence and interior ministries.

The latest development in Tripoli came amid heightened tensions little more than a week before a presidential election set for December 24 as part of a United Nations-led peace process.

But with a final list of candidates yet to be published, observers have expressed serious doubts over whether the vote will go ahead as scheduled.

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