Moamer Kadhafi, Libyans mark start of uprising that ended dictatorship

Libyans Friday marked the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi, waving flags in central Tripoli even as the country reels from political chaos and security problems.

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Libyans take part in a celebration with fireworks marking the sixth anniversary of the Libyan revolution, which toppled strongman Moamer Kadhafi, in Benghazi on February 17, 2017 play

Libyans take part in a celebration with fireworks marking the sixth anniversary of the Libyan revolution, which toppled strongman Moamer Kadhafi, in Benghazi on February 17, 2017

(AFP)
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Libyans Friday marked the anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi, waving flags in central Tripoli even as the country reels from political chaos and security problems.

Thousands of people gathered in the capital's Martyrs Square flying the national flag as fireworks lit the night sky and passing motorists sounded their horns in support.

Forces loyal to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) were deployed as a security measure to ensure the commemoration was trouble-free.

The oil-rich North African country has been wracked by chaos since Kadhafi was toppled, with rival militias and administrations vying for control.

A rival authority based in the east has refused to recognise the GNA since it began work in Tripoli in March last year.

Rida al-Mahmudi, 62, said he allowed his teenage sons to join Friday's celebrations, even if his heart was not really in it.

"I sent my two boys to Martyrs Square where many people are gathered to participate in this big happy event. They're teenagers -- they wouldn't understand if I told them the country is in chaos," he said.

"All they know is that six years ago we got rid of 42 years of brutal dictatorship, and that youngsters a little bit older than them died in the process of liberating their homeland. Let them be happy.

A Libyan girl waves her country's national flag as she takes part in a celebration marking the sixth anniversary of the Libyan revolution, which toppled strongman Moamer Kadhafi, at the Martyrs' Square in the capital Tripoli, on February 17, 2017 play

A Libyan girl waves her country's national flag as she takes part in a celebration marking the sixth anniversary of the Libyan revolution, which toppled strongman Moamer Kadhafi, at the Martyrs' Square in the capital Tripoli, on February 17, 2017

(AFP)

"Tomorrow I'll worry about whether I can get cash from the bank or not. But today, it's time for joy," he added.

In addition to political rivalries, the rise of jihadism and the presence of powerful militias, Libyans say living conditions have deteriorated since March last year.

These include power cuts, exorbitant prices and security issues that plague their daily lives which are often interrupted by clashes between rival groups.

But for Fatima al-Arbi, 59, February 17 is a day to be celebrated because it marked the beginning of the end for Kadhafi, who was killed on October 20, 2011.

"We have to celebrate in spite of all that is happening in Libya today," she said.

"Let's not mix things, what politicians and external agendas have done is another thing.

"I don't want my grandchildren to miss out on such a happy occasion, and I don't want them to forget the meaning of this date.

"We have the right to be proud of February 17 and we have the right to be happy about it. No one has the right to take this away from us," she said.

Libyans have also been marking the sixth anniversary of the start of the 2011 uprising in second city Benghazi, the cradle of the revolution, and other cities since Thursday.

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