Thousands of Libyans mark 8 years since uprising

Libyans gather to attend a celebration marking the eighth anniversary of the uprising, in the capital Tripoli’s Martyrs Square on February 17, 2019. Eight years after the revolt in Libya against Moamer Kadhafi’s authoritarian regime, a modern and democratic state remains a distant dream in a country which has been sliding from crisis to crisis. AFP photo


Thousands of Libyans took the streets Sunday to mark eight years since the uprising that ousted dictator Muammer Kadhafi, despite chronic political and security crises.

Waving flags and wearing the country’s national colours of red, black and green, marchers poured into Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square, where the late autocrat once gave speeches, to continue celebrations kicked off the day before.

The day’s festivities were filled with fireworks, concerts and music blasted from loudspeakers.

In Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city and the “cradle of the revolution”, celebrations were dimmer.
Only a few dozen people gathered at the Benghazi court square where the first anti-Kadhafi demonstrations began.

Once a symbol of the uprising, it now lies in ruins, bearing the scars of a war against jihadists launched in 2014.

“This revolution was born in the streets and squares, carried by the youth… but some are trying to steal the dreams and desires of our people for a dignified life,” said 32-year-old Benghazi resident Mohamad al-Agouri.

Libya has been mired in power struggles since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising, with militias and tribes vying for control of the country’s resources.

The oil-rich country is torn between rival administrations, with the UN-backed Government of National Accord based in Tripoli and a parallel body in the east backed by strongman Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army.

Basic public services are wanting and continued violence and divisions are fuelling uncertainty and desperation, especially among the country’s youth.

“I’m impatiently waiting to see Libya stabilise and to be able to live in peace,” pharmacist Abdelhamid al-Maghrabi told AFP.

“We’ve had enough of wars, massacres and destruction,” said the father of four.