Libyans put aside woes to celebrate uneasy anniversary

February 17, 2013 22:21
1 minute read.

BENGHAZI/TRIPOLI - Thousands took to the streets on Sunday to celebrate two years since the start of Libya's revolution and a national political leader promised to end the sense of neglect experienced by Benghazi, the country's second city.

One thousand km (620 miles) east of the capital Tripoli, Benghazi was the cradle of the revolt that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi, but many citizens feel that they are yet to see the fruits of their military struggle.

There are calls in the eastern region - where most of Libya's oil wealth lies - for a return to a federal political structure and more regional autonomy, which Libya had before Gaddafi seized power in a coup in 1969.

Many are unhappy that the government is yet to disarm militias or write a new constitution.

National Congress leader Mohammed Magarief visited Benghazi on Sunday and sought to tackle simmering discontent in the city.

"We admit that we have not fulfilled our duties completely. Maybe the excuse is a lack of experience, but we have started from scratch and we will learn from the lessons we learned in the past months," Magarief told a crowd of about 200 people.

"We promise to end the neglect Benghazi feels and will push the government to spread Libya's wealth equally across the country."

Magarief, accompanied by several cabinet ministers, also promised to hand out money to Libyan families as "a valuable gift to celebrate the revolution" but did not say how much.

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