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Libya Celebrates 40 Years of Gaddafi Rule

Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi is Tuesday celebrating forty years of his ascension to power.

But despite western boycott to show displeasure with the recent heroic welcome given Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, all is reportedly set for the week-long celebration.

The main streets of the capital, Tripoli have reportedly been cleaned up and decorated with green flags and giant posters of Gaddafi dressed in flamboyant uniforms.

The celebration comes a day after Gaddafi hosted an extraordinary meeting of African heads of state and government to tackle conflicts across the continent.

Sami Zaptia, an economist and a Libyan newspaper columnist said that the ceremonies begin early Tuesday at the city's town centre.

"There is a very big celebration today (Tuesday). Dancers from all over the world, the big stages, big military tattoo bands representing every continent of the world and definitely a big party at the town center today," Zaptia said.

He said the government speaks about Libya emerging political and economic strength.

"Libya has come a long way and as the regime will put it, Libya is now fully sovereign fully independent nation politically financially… so the newly independent Libya then is now matured fully independent and a leading African state," he said.

Zaptia said Libya's economy is experiencing growth after Western sanctions were recently lifted.

"Definitely it has made a big difference and I mean sanctions here are one thing, but post-sanctions are another thing... As you drive to downtown Tripoli from Tripoli International Airport, you cannot but notice the huge construction boom that is going on. So there is a difference in post sanctions Libya," Zaptia said.

Libya came under intense criticism after the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing returned home to a hero's welcome following his release from a Scottish prison.

President Barack Obama said the Scottish government's decision to free terminally ill Abdel Baset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds was a mistake, adding that he should have been placed under house arrest.

But Zaptia said Libyans want to forget about the controversy.

"For most Libyans they would be glad that this chapter is over with. They see the coming home of this gentleman as really drawing a line over that long, long dark chapter," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gaddafi generated another controversy when he accused Israel being behind Africa's conflicts, including Darfur and the escalating violence in Somalia.