Libya's 1st anniversary of uprising

2012-02-17 20:16
Benghazi/Tripoli - Libyans took to the streets on Friday to celebrate the first anniversary of the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, but some rued the insecurity and disorder that still stalk a country preparing for its first free election.

Flag-waving crowds converging on Martyrs Square in the capital Tripoli or Freedom Square in Benghazi, cradle of the revolt, had to negotiate extra checkpoints set up authorities to stop Gaddafi loyalists from disrupting festivities.

Spontaneous celebrations began on Thursday night when men, women and children emerged on the streets of Tripoli, Benghazi and other towns waving flags and chanting.

"Despite the problems that remain in the country, this is an amazing day and we want to celebrate," a 22-year-old engineering student called Sarah said in Tripoli. "Just look at what was achieved in this past year."

Life for many people has improved since the eight-month Nato-backed struggle against Gaddafi and its chaotic aftermath, but security and political woes abound ahead of the June poll.

As it tries to build a democratic state, the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) is struggling to impose its authority on a country awash with weapons and to form a functioning national police force and army.

Heavily-armed militiashave stepped into the vacuum, carving out local fiefdoms. Their fighters say they are loyal to the NTC but answer only to their own commanders. They often clash because of disputes over who controls which neighbourhoods.

Ezzieddin Agiel, who teaches engineering at Tripoli University, said insecurity could undermine the June election.

Challenges ahead

"The biggest achievement of the revolution was to end the Gaddafi regime and put a stop to his family's corruption. The elections reflect the Libyan quest to build the state and constitution," he added.

"The weakness of the political institutions may lead to serious problems for Libya, which may be difficult to control."

As well as imposing order, the government must also rebuild an ageing and damaged infrastructure and boost weak health, judicial and educational systems in the oil-producing country.

Libya's new rulers have not organised official celebrations at a national level, as a mark of respect for the thousands of people killed in the conflict that ended with Gaddafi's capture and killing on October 20. However, NTC chairperson Mustafa Abdel Jalil is expected to appear in Benghazi for the occasion.

Celebrations in Benghazi, the city which first rose against Gaddafi's 42-year rule, began on Wednesday evening with a torch-lit march to recall the first protest a year ago.

The NTC says die-hard Gaddafi loyalists might disrupt the anniversary, but perhaps the biggest risk in Benghazi is from protests by disgruntled supporters of the anti-Gaddafi revolt.

Last month, Abdel Jalil was confronted in Benghazi by a furious, bottle-throwing crowd who complained the NTC was trashing the values of the revolution because it was not transparent about how it spent oil revenues and included officials who had served under Gaddafi.

Growing popular anger

"The NTC seems incapable of addressing growing popular anger aimed at it and its chairperson Mustafa Abdel Jalil over the transition process," said Crispin Hawes of the Eurasia Group consultancy.

February's uprising began in the long discontented east of Libya around Benghazi, inspired by unrest that overthrew leaders in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt, and then ground slowly across the country before the sudden fall of Tripoli in August.

Gaddafi was killed two months later when he was found hiding in a storm drain after fleeing an attack on his home town of Sirte. Grainy mobile phone footage of his last moments, bloodied and bewildered as rebels dragged him along a road, recorded the grisly climax of the conflict.

Several of Gaddafi's children are in exile in neighbouring countries, from where some have made so far fruitless appeals for a counter-revolution.

The most prominent son, Saif al-Islam, who at one stage was tipped to succeed his father, has been held by a militia in the Libyan town of Zintan since he was captured disguised as a Bedouin tribesman deep in the Sahara desert.

Highlighting the weakness of Libya's central government, local commanders have refused requests to hand him over to the authorities in Tripoli.

Read more on:    ntc  |  mustafa abdel jalil  |  saif al-islam gaddafi  |  muammar gaddafi  |  libya  |  north africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go! - shop online today

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]


Something is blocking the flow of things today and it is easy to become frustrated and pessimistic. The problem is that your more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.