Libyans fear violence on 2nd anniversary
15 February 2013, 12:00
Tripoli - 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
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.
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
"Security is one of the challenges the country faces,
especially the proliferation of weapons and the escape of thousands of
prisoners" during the revolution, according to political analyst Suleyman
"The new authorities are faced with immediate social
demands that prevent them from implementing medium- or long-term economic or
Despite Libya holding its first free elections in July last
year, Azqim told AFP the country is not yet politically mature after four
decades of dictatorship under Gaddafi.
No official programme
The fear of fresh violence is strong among both Libya's
dwindling foreign community and Libyans who have rushed to stock up on food and
"We must be ready. One never knows what can happen,
particularly since there is no stability in the country and the government is
unable to impose its authority," said one, Murad Abuajila al-Majbri.
Another man, Abdelmalek Haj, said he had moved his family
out of the capital.
"I am not sure of the threats, but I prefer to do what
is necessary because no one knows what will happen with the weapons that are in
people's hands," he said.
Meanwhile there is no official programme to mark the
anniversary. "It is up to the people to celebrate as they wish," the