News / Africa

No Gadhafi to Celebrate Anniversary of His Coup

An effigy of Moammar Gadhafi hangs from a scaffold in Tripoli's Martyrs' Square, Libya, August 29, 2011
An effigy of Moammar Gadhafi hangs from a scaffold in Tripoli's Martyrs' Square, Libya, August 29, 2011

Multimedia

Elizabeth Arrott

Thursday marks 42 years since Libya's Moammar Gadhafi seized power in a coup. It's an anniversary that until now was observed with great fanfare. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott attended the lavish 40th anniversary celebrations two years ago and now is back in Tripoli for what would have been Gadhafi's big day.


When Gadhafi marked 40 years, he put his picture everywhere - images of him as a brash young army officer, the self-styled philosopher, the king of all African kings.

Today, those posters are still here, only they are on the street, stepped and stomped on by the people he once led.  

Back in 2009, there were fireworks. Now, tracer bullets light the sky of a Tripoli in blackout.

Overlooking Tripoli's harbor is Martyrs' Square. Back then it was Green Square, and headquarters for Gadhafi's massive party for himself. Now, bullet casings litter the ground, and an effigy of the former leader swings from a scaffold above.

One of the biggest changes is that people like Mohammad Toumi are able to speak out.

The Tripoli resident excused himself for the language he used, but said the past 42 years were "crap."  

The eternal revolutionary, as Gadhafi was known, had become an emperor with no clothes, no match for a new generation seeking change, and a world which, for the most part, wanted to see him gone.

Hints of Gadhafi's growing isolation could be seen back then. He invited just about everyone, but it was mainly other African leaders, including fellow war crimes suspect Omar Bashir of Sudan, who came.  

During the 40th anniversary celebrations, the Libyan leader did little to hide his autocratic demeanor, slapping his protocol minister in public, as well as his translator. He had state journalists proclaim him "the man who impresses me!" - all the while protected by his phalanx of female bodyguards.  

But the power he amassed was not enough to protect him from uprisings sweeping the Arab world.

Some here say the revolution could not have happened without Libya's youth. Salem Nawar, who is in his sixties, believes his generation became accustomed to Gadhafi's oppression.

Grafitti in Martyrs' Square in Tripoli, Libya, August 29, 2011
Grafitti in Martyrs' Square in Tripoli, Libya, August 29, 2011


"These youngsters, they've heard their elders, they've seen their friends being badly treated, and they came out, nobody asked them to come out. Nobody asked them, they are going to pay them or do this, okay, a lot of them, they think it is fun, but they paid dearly."

Nearby, two young men linger at the edge of the square, where two years ago Africa's leaders came to wish Gadhafi well. One wears a T-shirt with a "Wanted" poster for Moammar Gadhafi. His message to the former "Brother-Leader" is blunt.

"I hate you and I think you go to the [hell]fire," he said.

It's a message that two years ago was unimaginable on the streets of Tripoli.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid