News / Middle East

Libya Unsettled Two Years After Gadhafi Death

FILE - Libyan women celebrate the revolution against Moammar Gadhafi's regime at a rally in Tripoli, September 2, 2011.FILE - Libyan women celebrate the revolution against Moammar Gadhafi's regime at a rally in Tripoli, September 2, 2011.
x
FILE - Libyan women celebrate the revolution against Moammar Gadhafi's regime at a rally in Tripoli, September 2, 2011.
FILE - Libyan women celebrate the revolution against Moammar Gadhafi's regime at a rally in Tripoli, September 2, 2011.
Libyans on Sunday marked the second anniversary of the death of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi, whose killing by rebels ended the Libyan uprising against the longtime dictator.  But despite the celebratory flag-waving and fireworks, the transition from autocracy to democracy is proving harder than they expected.

Libyan celebrations are always loud affairs with fireworks, blaring patriotic music and militiamen letting off bursts of automatic gunfire, and today the young especially are pleased to party to mark the second anniversary of the death of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Nabila, a 22-year-old student, was out with friends in Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square.
 
“Today means everything for Libyans, especially for me," Nabila said. "I am so happy for this day. Because everybody going his flag on her flag and going and say 'this is the revolution, this is the freedom for Libya.' ”
 
But away from scenes of mainly youthful revelry with young men and women seizing a rare chance to mingle freely, many Libyans are worried.

They knew there would be missteps and mishaps but since last year’s anniversary the country has been roiled by lawlessness. The French embassy has been bombed and other foreign missions attacked and Libya has been governed as much by unruly, self-willed revolutionary militias as by elected albeit squabbling politicians. Earlier this month, gunmen kidnapped the prime minister, if only briefly.     
The surge in drug use and crime worries Libyan journalist Ashraf Abdul Wahab.
 
“I am feeling that Libya gets crushed in a wall or something like that because there were no security at the moment," Abdul Wahab said. "And I am feeling that the government is very weak. And the government must do very good steps about the security issue in Libya.”
 
Optimism remains

But taking measures isn’t so easy. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has asked for Western assistance in training militiamen to become soldiers but in the past two years plans to set up a national army have come and gone, floundering on militia resistance. Zeidan has been able to do little in the face of a months-long blockade by militias of oilfields and seaports.  

Is it all doom and gloom? Mother-of-three Holima Elhaj says most Libyans are not in a celebratory mood. They are fearful of the rampant lawlessness and frustrated by the high cost of living, but she says there is one good thing worth noting.
 
“People are very happy they can speak freely. With the previous regime no one could say a word,” said Elhaj.  
 
Now at least they can complain but some lawmakers think Libyans should be more understanding, and patient about the pace of change, says lawmaker Mohammad Saad.

“The people they think that as we have money we can do anything quickly, that is how they think, as you have money in your pocket so you can buy anything you want,” said Saad. "For the individuals okay but for country you have to build the laws, you have to put the right people in the right position and you have to make the planning for things, it is not easy.”

On this anniversary, mixed in with the celebration, there is foreboding. Civil society activist Leila says she tries to remain confident but harbors doubts.

“We are trying to be optimistic, hopefully, maybe. But personally I am not sure,” said Leila.

Today Libyans will try to quell their worries, but in the east in Benghazi, widespread violence broke out after the assassination of a military police commander Friday,  adding to the sense of foreboding.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs