As Libya’s interim government struggles to bring security, stability and democracy to the country, a burgeoning protest movement is rocking the fragile nation, venting grudges and challenging the legitimacy of the ruling authorities.
The movement is at its strongest in the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of the uprising that saw NATO-backed forces help end Muam­mar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule.
Rebel fighters began battling government forces here in February last year. They controlled most of the city within a few days, and a transitional governing council beg­an operating before the end of that month as the city became the base for the revolution.
But almost a year later, support for the council, which has shifted its operations to Trip­oli, is rapidly evaporating. People complain of shaky security, delays in reopening schools and courts, and flaws in the interim constitution and proposed electoral legislation, as well as the continued presence of Gadd­afi-era officials on the council.
For more than a month, hundreds of angry demonstrators have gathered nightly in Tree Square in the city center to chant, dance, sing and discuss their grievances.
“What we are asking for is not privileges,” said Saleh el-Haddar, a businessman at a recent protest. “We want the courts to work, we want the followers of Gaddafi to go ..... and our main concern is transparency.” The simmering discontent bubbled into violence on Saturday, when thousands rallied outside a government building where members of the transitional council were meeting local politicians. Protesters threw grenades and homemade bombs, while the council’s chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, remained inside, demonstrators said.
Speaking at a news conference after the clash, Abdel Jalil called for patience. “We are going through a political movement that can take the country to a bottomless pit,” he said. He also suspended six members of the council from Benghazi. His remarks were followed by the resignation of Abdul Hafidh Ghoga, the depu­ty head of the transitional ­council.
The Washington Post