Magharebia (Washington DC)

Libya: Shahat Slams GNC

Shahat — A large demonstration took place on Sunday (February 2nd) in the eastern Libyan city of Shahat against extending the mandate of the General National Congress (GNC).

Protesters came from the cities of Shahat, al-Bayda, Sousse, and neighbouring villages brandishing slogans demanding the congress' departure and holding it responsible for the security deterioration. They considered extending its mandate a theft of public money and a perpetuation of the bloodshed.

The slogans also demanded the building of an army and police and the rejection of illegal formations and the dissolution of Shahat Security Room, which includes former rebels. They also brandished slogans in solidarity with Saiqa and its efforts to secure the city of Benghazi.

The demonstrators who had gathered in the city centre issued a statement calling for the withdrawal and cancellation of the decision to extend the GNC mandate. They called for creating a timeframe, a roadmap, and an initiative to transfer power peacefully to a legitimate body.

The demonstrators demanded in their statement the immediate resignation of "patriotic members" from congress.

They warned of the consequences of intransigence and that they would no longer accept "political anarchy" at the expense of the nation.

The protest marched through the main street of the city towards the compound of the Hussein al-Jawafi Brigade, where locals battled Kadhafi's troops on February 18th, 2011.

During the demonstration, the commander of Shahat Security Room responded to the demands of the city, dissolved the room and handed over the vehicles in its possession to the city's security directorate.

"We came because we don't believe anymore in the capabilities of the GNC. The situation has not changed, but grew worse," actor Azzedine al-Douili told Magharebia. "The GNC did not bring any glimmer of hope or optimism with regard to the rebuilding of the country."

As for the symbolic destination of the demonstrators, he said it was "to remind the GNC of fate and that nothing lasts. We also went there to remember the heroic battle that took place around its walls and inside it and also to mourn the souls of the martyrs of that battle".

For his part, Hafedh Faraj, a member of the National Service Co-ordination, told Magharebia that people believe congress was to blame for "most of the problems experienced by the country if not all".

"The youth of Shahat and neighbouring cities took to the streets to refuse the extension of the mandate of the GNC," he explained.

Faraj also blamed the GNC for the delay in building the army and police, saying young people were demanding properly built security forces that serve the homeland and citizens.

He maintained that "the GNC's delay in performing its duties, including the election of the members of the constitutional body drafting the constitution, was due to preoccupation with passing resolutions serving members of congress and some political blocs within. They forgot or feigned to forget their most important duty, which is writing the Constitution."

"We are tired of partisan bickering, the lack of security and the lack of an army and police and fear al-Qaeda taking over the country," said rally participant Abdul Latif Abdel Hamid.

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