By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli/Tunis, 16 January 2017:
The Wirshefana and Zawia have agreed a peace deal that raises hopes of an end to the current crippling power shortages in western and southern Libya.
So far under the deal, brokered in part by the Presidency Council and state electricity company GECOL, the Wirshefana have released 28 Zawians from the 90 they reportedly kidnapped in revenge for gunmen from Zawia seizing a truck filled with shisha tobacco. It was being smuggled to Tunisia to be sold on for profit.
The abductions led to threats from Zawia that, unless the people were released, they would cut the gas supply to the Zawia power plant. When the warning was ignored, the threats were carried out, resulting in a serious reduction of electricity output from the power station.
Combined with the hike in electricity consumption because of the cold winter weather, it resulted in the current crippling power outages across western and southern Libya.
For its part under the deal, Zawia is reportedly paying LD 1 million in compensation for the stolen shisha tobacco plus LD 150,000 for “the kidnappers’ services”. The latter has now been paid. The former is classed as compensation because Zawia claims that it does not know who actually stole the vehicle.
When the rest of the money is paid, the remaining hostages will be released and Zawia will then reopen the gas pipeline.
Despite of the deal, though, western and southern Libya continue to be hit by power shortages with outages for much of the day across Tripoli. The situation has also had a significant affect on Internet and mobile phone coverage in the region.