18 February 2013

Libya: Anniversary Highlights Security

Photo: Magharebia
Libyans celebrate the February 17 revolution.

Tripoli — Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan told February 17th celebrants that the "brave young revolutionaries" were critical to the country's future.

Libyan authorities on Sunday (February 17th) used the 2nd anniversary of the revolution that toppled Moamer Kadhafi to highlight security improvements.

More than 3,000 flag-waving citizens took to the streets of Tripoli to mark the occasion.

Balloons and fireworks were launched in the sky of the capital, while the streets were filled with cars honking horns.

Prime Minister Ali Zidan seized the occasion to mention the state's security and defence institutions, hail the "martyrs, wounded and missing people who gave the noblest sacrifice", and recognise the revolutionaries.

"Libya is proud of those brave young people and will depend on them in its prosperous future," Zidan said in a recorded speech to citizens.

"The dictator was toppled and Libya triumphed. The election was a success, the General National Congress (GNC) was elected, the government was formed, and we started to build state institutions based on modern foundations as per the principles and goals of the February 17th revolution," he added.

Armed rebels who joined the Ministries of Interior and Defence patrolled road intersections and roundabouts in cold rainy weather to protect against those trying to hinder peaceful demonstrations.

"The revolution was about freedom and that is why we will not stop people from expressing themselves, nor confiscate their opinions; rather we will defend and protect them," rebel Abdul Bari said.

Zidan noted the failure of those who wanted to ruin the occasion. Libyans have proven that they are a people of will, determination and patriotism, he added.

At al-Tahrir Square in Benghazi, General National Congress (GNC) head Mohamed Magarief addressed the security situation during a speech, saying that it was the responsibility of every citizen.

The security crisis is preventing Libya from moving ahead and allowing the return of foreign companies, Libya Herald reported Magarief as saying.

"We emphasise to our partners our determination that Libya does not become a base for or source of terrorism," AFP quoted the GNC chief as saying.

Security forces were on high alert for the occasion. AFP reported that Libya's borders with Egypt and Tunisia were closed on Thursday for four days and all international flights suspended except at the airports of Tripoli and Benghazi, while checkpoints were set up around the two cities.

Both the GNC head and the Prime Minister highlighted other successes made over the past two years.

Magarief noted that the GNC was working hard to enact legislation related to security, justice, and social and economic conditions.

He said that the parliament was keen to co-operate with the interim government to enable it to better perform its executive duties.

Magarief also urged displaced Libyans abroad to return to the country.

"The new Libya is for all," he said, adding that those who committed crimes would receive a fair trial upon their return.

University student Wafa Mohsen was interested in hearing what Libya's leaders had to say on the revolution anniversary.

"I am studying law at the University of Tripoli and I know that whoever violates the rules has to assume the consequences," she told Magharebia.

"We want to build a state of institutions and law and we do not want chaos. 42 years of chaos are enough and I invite everyone to unite with the government to build the state," the student added.

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