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BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — Demonstrators broke into the building that houses the eastern Libya-based parliament in Tobruk on Friday, setting fire to parts of it amid protests over months of failed efforts to set the divided country on a path toward elections.

One witness, Taher Amaizig, said thousands joined a march to the parliament building calling for the current political powers to be dissolved and elections to be held.

He said that as security guards tried to prevent people from entering, a protester was shot in the legs and other demonstrators then forced their way inside.

Videos circulated on social media showed protesters filing past burning piles. Friday is the first day of the weekend in Libya, meaning the building was likely empty when it was stormed. It was unclear what protesters intended by targeting the building

Other protests demanding elections were staged earlier in the day in several cities around Libya.

The unrest comes a day after representatives of Libya’s rival powers — one based in the east of the country and the other in the west — failed at U.N.-mediated talks in Geneva to reach agreement on a constitutional framework for national elections.

After more than a decade of war, the country is once again split between competing administrations, sliding backwards despite a year of tentative steps towards unity.

Oil-rich Libya has been wrecked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, leading to a rise in rival governments. The administration based in the east is backed by military commander Khalifa Hifter, and a U.N.-supported administration is based in the capital of Tripoli. Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers.

Tobruk, the seat of Libya’s House of Representatives, has long been allied with Hifter. More recently the parliament there elected Fathy Basghagha as prime minister to a government that rivals the Tripoli-based administration. Bashagha, a powerful former interior minister, is now operating a separate administration out of the city of Sirte.

Libya’s plan for elections last Dec. 24 fell through after the interim administration based in Tripoli, headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, failed to go ahead with the vote. The failure was a major blow to international efforts to end a decade of chaos in Libya.

The deteriorating economic situation was also a factor in Friday’s protests. In Tripoli, hundreds came out earlier in the day in opposition to the political crisis but also to rail against electricity shortages and rising prices for fuel and bread.

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I lost my baby at 36 weeks & it devastated me – now I help others say goodbye to theirs through life-shattering grief

SHARON Luca-Chatha, 46, lives in Coventry with her husband Jas, 44, a program planner, and son Ky, nine. 

“As the doctor gave us the devastating news, my husband fell to his knees.

5Sharon Luca-Chatha said: 'As the doctor gave us the devastating news, my husband fell to his knees' 5Mum Sharon with husband Jas and son Ky at Legoland in Dubai

Four weeks before my due date, our baby had gone. We clung to each other, unable to make sense of it.

It had been the first day of my maternity leave in June 2012 when, after dinner, we’d settled down to watch the Euros.

I was pregnant with our first child, a boy, and he always seemed to kick more when football was on TV.

We used to joke he’d be a footballer, but on this occasion he was unusually quiet.

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As the evening went on, Jas and I became concerned, so we decided I should get checked out at the hospital that night.

Apart from measuring slightly small, the pregnancy had been straightforward, but as the midwife scanned my tummy, there was an eerie silence.

I saw her glance at a member of staff and knew something was wrong.

The doctor came in, looked at the scan and said the words that still haunt me: ‘I’m sorry.’ I screamed. At that moment our world shattered. 

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The next day, I was given tablets to induce labour and I felt like everything was out of my control.

My head was spinning.

Being on the labour ward, I could hear the cries of mothers giving birth and babies entering the world. It broke my heart.

When the midwife handed my baby to me two days later, I smiled at him – he was beautiful – and then I wept as Jas kissed him.

We named him Luca and he was perfect.

After holding him as long as we could – just a few precious hours – and taking photos, we had to hand Luca back to be taken to the mortuary.

I held him on my chest to smell his hair and kiss his head. 

I didn’t want to let him go, and as I gave him to the midwife, inside I was screaming: ‘No, not yet.’ We knew we’d never see him again and we cried uncontrollably.

In the months ahead, although I received some counselling through the NHS, I couldn’t come to terms with what had happened.

We held a funeral on July 17, but it didn’t give me much comfort.

My arms were so empty and I felt like I had no purpose.

In my darkest hours I contemplated suicide, but the thought of Jas finding my body was the only thing that stopped me. 

As the doctor gave us the devastating news, my husband fell to his knees.

Sharon Luca-Chatha

We still desperately wanted to be parents, and in 2012 I became pregnant again.

I was in a state of anxiety the whole pregnancy, so when our son Ky was born on June 14, 2013, it was a huge relief.

He was delivered a week before Luca’s birthday and we were smitten.

You never get over losing a child, but you have to find a way to live again. With Ky, we found that.

We changed our family surname in honour of Luca, and we’ve always had photos of him in the house.

Ky would point at his picture and we’d tell him that was his big brother in the sky.

I knew he would ask one day why he died, and we just told him Luca’s heart stopped, because that’s all we know. 

Life hasn’t been easy, and a car accident in 2016 left me with fibromyalgia – a chronic condition that causes pain and exhaustion and has ruled out having another baby.

But out of the lowest of lows came a breakthrough moment when I realised I wanted to help bereaved parents have as much time as possible with their angel babies. 

In November 2018, I established The Luca Foundation, a charity to fund the repair of existing cuddle cots, as well as buying new ones at £1,600 a time.

I read about cuddle cots after losing Luca – they keep the baby’s body cold, giving parents up to a week with them and the option to take them home before saying goodbye.

Our aim is for every hospital to be equipped with them.

I’ve also written two books to help adults and children through loss. 

When people ask me how many children I have, I always tell them I have two.

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Luca is still with us, and his legacy is providing the gift of time to more than 3,000 grieving families so far. I couldn’t be prouder of him for that.” 

  •  Visit The Luca Foundation at Thelucafoundation.org.uk.
BTW

In the UK, approximately seven babies are stillborn each day.*

It’s estimated that each year, more than 2.65 million babies die during the last trimester of pregnancy across the world.**

Sources: *Tommy’s **WHO

  • Angel Warrior: Life After Loss and Why Did Grandad Die? by Sharon Luca-Chatha are both out now
5Sharon and her husband Jas 5Sharon during her second pregnancy with son Ky 5Sharon has written books about her experience going through a miscarriage

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