Monday, 20 February 2012

Libyans still fearful of instability

Last Friday 17th February, marked the one year anniversary of the first demonstration against Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi and his rule. The uprising began in Benghazi, which later became the rebel stronghold, and quickly spread throughout the country. The eight month civil war was aided by NATO and was responsible for the ousting of the old regime, which culminated with Qadhafi's death in his hometown of Sirte on 20th October.

There were no official celebrations to mark the occasion as a show of respect for those who lost their lives in battle. Thousands of people, however, took to the streets with V for victory signs and pictures of those who died during the revolution. Commemorations began in Benghazi and spread throughout the country.

Speaking to the crowds in the former rebel stronghold, interim Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib said: "We promise to find Qadhafi loyalists who are abroad, who were involved in killing or stealing Libyan money… We promise to build up our national army ... Let's stay united until we reach the safe land.”

Before the momentous date, al-Keib addressed the nation saying the government would take a hard-line response to anyone who threatened national security during Friday's celebrations.

There were security measures put in place in major cities to prevent possible outbreaks of violence.

Speaking on the eve of the festivities in a television address chairman on Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdul Jalil said that the government has “opened” its arms to all Libyans irrespective of whether or not they supported the revolution.

He added: “But this tolerance does not mean we are incapable of dealing with the stability of our country…We will be tough towards people who threaten our stability. The thuwwar [brigades of former rebel fighters] are ready to respond to any attack aimed at destabilising" the country.

It would appear that the festivities went without major incident, but many still fear the insecurity situation across the country. Libya's government seems to have had little success in disarming the various militias and until they do the country could easily return to oppression and instability.

Sources: AFP, Reuters, BBC News

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

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