TRIPOLI: Libya marked the second anniversary on Wednesday of its “liberation” from loyalists of veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi with no official celebrations as it struggles to heal the wounds of the conflict.
The post-Kadhafi authorities are still struggling to assert their writ over large swathes of the country.
Many rebel units, which fought in the bloody North Atlantic Treaty Organization-backed revolt against Kadhafi’s forces have refused to lay down their arms and now operate as more or less autonomous militias, sometimes in outright defiance of the government.
The government did issue a brief statement on Tuesday, congratulating the people on the “decisive day that ended tyranny and despotism.”
On October 23, 2011, the victorious rebels declared the “liberation” of Libya from Kadhafi loyalists three days, after the once-feared dictator was captured and killed outside his hometown Sirte in the final battle of the eight-month conflict.
But two years on, there was no sign of any preparations for festivities in either the capital or second city of Benghazi, birthplace of the uprising.
The anniversary comes less than two weeks after a former rebel militia briefly kidnapped Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, exposing the persistent weakness of the central government.
Tripoli resident Abdelhadi al-Sultan, 41, was downbeat about the anniversary.
“Nothing has changed in Libya,” he said as he left a mosque. “Libya is not getting better, it is heading towards worse things because of the militias that really govern the country.”
With the overthrow of the Kadhafi regime, the country’s once-pervasive security apparatus also collapsed, and the new authorities have struggled to create a replacement army and police force.
Instead it has had to rely on the former rebel militias, which have their own competing ideological, regional and tribal loyalties.
Despite the chaos, Fethi Terbel, the lawyer and human rights activist whose arrest on February 15, 2011 sparked Libya’s uprising, was tentatively optimistic.
“I have a positive outlook two years after the liberation, despite the bitterness that dominates most people’s feelings and which seems to me to be the natural result of a revolution still in its infancy,” he said.