News / Middle East

Rival Militias Still Fighting in Libya

Libya’s first election in more than 40 years is scheduled in two weeks.  But, some worry that the country's instability may mar the election or dim the hopes from last year’s successful revolution.  

Fadi Tarapolsi was at the White House the night Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s reign came to an end.  “I’m on cloud nine right now, you know,” he said.

Tarapolsi returned to Libya with his ailing father to celebrate his country’s liberty.

“There’s some frustration there and they want to see some movement, but, at the same time, we are basically building everything from scratch," he said. "So it’s very important to do it right the first time.”

In two weeks, Libyans will elect a 200-member assembly to write a constitution and select a cabinet - but the elections may be delayed.  This week, Libyan authorities regained control of the country's main airport after it was briefly seized by militiamen armed with heavy machine guns. 

Last month, several people died during a militia protest outside the prime minister’s office. Several militias refuse to lay down their guns or join Libya's security force.

"A lot of the violence we've seen in the past six months has been the result of pre-existing tensions just boiling over," said Spencer Butts, with the Institute for the Study of War. "It's not necessarily violence that's directed at the authorities. A lot of it is tit-for-tat kidnappings or revenge killings that have spiralled out of control."

“It’s almost at a tipping point now as far as with the small, little factions.  It could develop into something more dangerous,” said Tarapolsi.

Libyan American activist Ismail Suayah just returned from Libya, where he addressed several hundred people in Martyrs Square. He told Libyans to be patient and to support the national army as it establishes security and rebuilds the country.

“Young people are still in the militia?  Yeah, for the lack of other things to do.  The struggle for power? Sure, that’s expected," Suayah stated. "The transitional government is not doing what people want?  Sure, that’s anticipated.  These things are going to take time.”

Suayah says when he visited Libya in years past, he’d see tears of joy, tempered with despair.  Now he sees tears of joy, enhanced with hope, as Libyans await the election.

Four out of five eligible voters in Libya have registered to cast a vote.  It will be the country’s first democratic election after more than 40 years under the rule of Moammar Gadhafi.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Optimist from: Everywhere
June 06, 2012 4:37 PM
Libyans are marching ahead, advancing toward a democratic state where the future of their nation is shared and guarded by all. This is their first revolution and they are handling it as best as they can, given the previous regime and political culture, there shall be no stone throwing at them. US's revolution took over ten years before it calmed, Russia's revolution went on for many years before it settled, France's revolution was not a one year occurrence.

Recent glitches here and there were expected to take place. There is no country that got its democratic institutions immediately after claiming their freedom? Libyans have several years and several elections before they filter out which politician belongs in parliament and what party should govern them. No one has the right to criticize them, if anything they are doing it faster than many of us anticipated they would. They need to be commended that they are doing everything without the guidance of any institution.

by: Truth Seeker from: USA
June 06, 2012 10:29 AM
Has anyone ever stopped to ask how this supposed "Arab Spring" sprouted in the hearts of Arabs. None of the fruit appears worth harvesting. The Plot to Overthrow explains so much that it will stagger your world political thinking forever. Mohammad Goldstein bluntly tells the world who is a Jew and what a Muslim really is. Obama has a copy you can get it for nuttin on the net. This guy is red hot and tells more truth than most can digest. The arab spring comes from wormwood and is not a people movement.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs