Libyans celebrate one-year anniversary of the revolution | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 17.02.2012
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Middle East

Libyans celebrate one-year anniversary of the revolution

Libyans took to the streets on Friday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the uprising that ended four decades of dictatorship. One year on, the country remains far from peaceful.

Libyans are marking the one-year anniversary of the start of an uprising that swept long-time strongman Moammar Gadhafi out of office after four decades in power.

Men, women, and children took to the streets all over the country, setting off firecrackers and chanting slogans. The spontaneous celebrations first broke out in the eastern coastal city of Benghazi, the cradle of the uprising, which became the rebels' first stronghold. The festivities quickly spread to others cities, including the capital, Tripoli.

Libyan national flags and banners praising the revolution had been hung atop buildings and outside of businesses ahead of the anniversary.

The head of the National Transitional Council, which came to power after the fall of Ghadafi was expected to attend a formal function to mark the anniversary in Benghazi later in the day.

On Thursday, though, Mustafa Abdel Jalil warned Libyans not to be overly exuberant in their celebrations.

"I urge my compatriots to hold simple celebrations without any armed displays, because Libya's wounds have not healed yet," Jalil said.

Increased security

Security was stepped up across the country ahead of the anniversary, with checkpoints set up in Tripoli and extra police officers deployed outside of some government buildings.

Jalil however, played down fears that Gadhafi loyalists could use the occasion to launch attacks.

"I would like to assure the Libyan people that there is nothing to be worried about from the Ghadafi followers," Jalili said.

He appeared to be referring to a threat from one of Gadhafi's sons, Al-Saadi, who recently threatened to return to Libya from Niger to launch a counter-revolution.

The country has been far from a peaceful place since the revolution, which culminated with the capture and killing of Moammar Gadhafi on October 20. There have been occasional clashes between rival militias and sometimes between supporters of the National Transitional Council and Gadhafi loyalists.

A report issued by the human rights group Amnesty International on Thursday said militia groups in Libya were "largely out of control," and it accused them of committing widespread human rights abuses.

pfd/ncy (dpa, AFP Reuters)