November 27, 2013 / 7:24 PM / 6 years ago

Libya's power production at 'lowest level' due to protests: minister

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Libya’s power production has hit a low due to protests by members of two minority groups stopping gas and petrol supplies getting to electricity plants in the west of the OPEC producer, the electricity minister said on Wednesday.

Militias, tribesmen and civil servants demanding more political rights or higher pay have seized most oilfields and ports, bringing crude exports to a fraction of their capacity.

In another escalation, members of the Amazigh and Tibu, two minorities complaining of political marginalization, have staged protests hampering power stations in western Libya, the minister, Ali Muhairig, told reporters.

“Power production has fallen to what is considered to be the lowest level,” he said, putting output at around 4,600 megawatt - less than the almost 6,000 megawatt measured in summer when output traditionally comes under pressure due to rising demand for air-conditioning units.

He said a group of Amazigh, or Berbers, was stopping gas from the western Wafa field. Members of the Tibu were also blocking the road to prevent petrol supplies reaching a power plant in Sarir in southwest Libya.

“I just got the information that the station will have to shut down within a day,” he said.

Both groups are demanding their language and cultural identity be guaranteed in a new constitution two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. They are also demanding a greater say in a special body drafting the constitution.

“I urge the Amazigh ... I urge the Tibu to demand their rights in a civilized way,” Muhairig said.

Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by David Evans

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