Anxiety ahead of Gaddafi ouster fete
Libya on Sunday will mark the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled the regime of strongman Muammar Gaddafi, amid fears of fresh violence and calls for demonstrations across the country.
The government has already taken a series of measures to contain any attempt by supporters of the former regime to “sow chaos” amid anger from protesters who accuse the new rulers of failing to push for reform.
Some critics of the government have even called for a “new revolution” as they denounce the power of ex-militias which helped to end more than four decades of rule by Gaddafi who was killed in October 2011.
Opposition groups are also demanding that former regime officials be barred from holding public office, and a leaflet circulated in Tripoli calls for a “popular revolt” and civil disobedience to bring down the regime.
It is unclear who is behind the leaflet and the calls for protests, but Libyan officials and several organisations, including Islamic groups, accuse remnants of the former regime of fomenting protests to “sow disorder and instability”.
The authorities are fighting back by requiring special permits for “peaceful protests,” and threatening force against those who try to derail the festivities.
The security forces have been put on high alert.
Prime Minister Ali Zeidan also announced the closure of Libya’s borders with Egypt and Tunisia from Thursday for four days, and that international flights will be suspended at all airports except Tripoli and second city Benghazi.
Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have also suspended flights to Libya during the anniversary commemorations.
Mr Zeidan called the Libyan measures “preventive,” to avoid “any bid to undermine Libya’s security and disrupt celebrations marking the anniversary of the revolution.”
Checkpoints have been set up across the capital and in eastern Benghazi, cradle of the “February 17 revolution” of 2011.
However residents of Benghazi — which has been hit by Islamist-linked violence targeting international agencies and diplomatic missions — have set up neighbourhood watches.
The city’s deadliest attack was a September 11 assault on the US consulate there that killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.