[QODLink]
Africa

Libyan leaders urge calm revolt anniversary

Security in Libya remains tenuous as the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi approaches.
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2013 15:42
Benghazi residents celebrated ahead of the second anniversary of the uprising that ousted Gaddafi [Reuters]

Pro-autonomy leaders in eastern Libya have urged followers to cancel planned rallies against central authorities on Friday for fear they could ignite violence as the country marks two years since the start of its revolution.

Various opposition and interest groups in Benghazi, fount of the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi, staged mass demonstrations on Friday to demand better security and investment for Libya's second biggest city.

"Everyone is carrying weapons in Benghazi and there is still general chaos and confusion," activist Zeid el-Ragas said.

While Sunday will be the actual two-year anniversary of the start of the anti-Gaddafi revolt, celebrations began on Friday in remembrance of the arrest of a human rights lawyer in Benghazi that kindled unrest.

Many Libyans, particularly those in the east, have been urging citizens to take to the streets to voice their discontent over the Tripoli government's inability to provide security by disarming militias or moving towards writing a constitution.

Security is a particular headache in Benghazi where violence against foreigners and police assassinations by armed groups have become regular occurrences.

Fears of more attacks

On January 25, Britain urged their nationals to leave Benghazi citing a "specific and imminent" threat to Westerners days after a deadly attack by armed groups on a natural gas complex and taking of hostages in neighbouring Algeria.

In Benghazi, the base of the rebel leadership during the 2011 war, daily life has been disrupted by violence and unrest on top of demands for greater autonomy or investment in a region separated from Tripoli 1,000km away to the west.

This has led to calls in the region - where most of Libya's oil wealth lies - for a return to a federal political structure,
that is, more regional autonomy, which Libya had before Gaddafi seized power in a coup in 1969.

Federalist groups say they have come under harsh criticism from the central government and even religious leaders, accusing them of calling for a separation of the east from the west of Libya, something they deny they want to do.

"We have been demonised in the state media as traitors and if anything goes wrong on February 15 we will be blamed for it, so it is better if we stay home," Ragas said.

378

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.