Chris Stephen in Tripoli
The main highway linking east and west Libya has been cut by armed militia demanding changes to the rules of the country’s national elections due on 7 July.
Armed units backed by vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft guns have cut the highway at Red Wadi, 40 miles from Libya’s main oil refinery at Ras Lanuf.
The militia say they will stay in place until Cyrenaica, Libya’s oil-rich eastern province, is given a greater distribution of seats in the new national parliament, the national congress.
The region’s self-declared Barqa Council – the Arab name for Cyrenaica – is calling for a boycott of the national elections unless seats are shared equally between Libya’s three provinces.
The roadblock, which government forces have not opposed, has further raised concerns over doubts over whether Libya can hold free and fair elections on schedule as violence continues in many parts of the country.
Fresh fighting has broken out in the southern town of Kufra, where battles between the indigenous Tibu people and Arab tribes earlier this year left 70 dead.