Friday, 4 March 2011

Libya: Demonstrators take to the streets after prayers

Libyan protesters have taken to the streets of Tripoli after Friday's prayers. The country's security forces have been trying to disperse the demonstrators with tear gas. Secret police has reportedly increased security around the capital, and Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi's supporters have set up traffic points around the city.

Hundreds of demonstrators, gathered in Tajura, have been chanting anti-Qadhafi sentiments and calling the Leader the “enemy of God". Reports have emerged that soon after the protests commenced the security forces fired live ammunition, but it is yet to be ascertained whether the shots were fired at the crowds or into the air.

The situation in the country's capital is chaotic with people being threatened and stopped, but still fearlessly shouting out anti-Qadhafi slogans. It appears as though, despite the risk of detention and worse, the demonstrators are adamant to carry on the momentum of the uprising which began in mid-February.

The opposition called on the protesters to take to the streets after noon prayers, to show the regime that they will not back down. Last Friday, pro-regime militiamen opened fire on the demonstrators killing and wounding a still unknown number of people.

Former justice minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil and leader of the opposition National Libyan Council reportedly told cheering crowds in Benghazi, not to give up. He said: "We are people who fight, we don't surrender. Victory or death. We will not stop till we liberate all this country."

A day ahead of Friday's demonstrations, US President Barack Obama called on Qadhafi to stand down as he had "lost the legitimacy to lead" after the violence in Tripoli. Obama also voiced condemnation of the Libyan leader, and seconded the decision of the international criminal court to investigate Qadhafi and his sons for possible crimes against humanity.

Sources: The Guardian, BBC News, FT

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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