23 Oct 2011

Libyan ‘liberation’ declared

Millions are expected to party through the night as Libya celebrates the official end of the war against Colonel Gaddafi’s regime.

Libya celebrations

Libya has declared the end of the eight-month war of liberation from the rule of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The country’s new leaders formally announced the end of hostilities, prompting wild celebrations and beginning a countdown to parliamentary democracy within two years.

“We declare to the whole world that we have liberated our beloved country, with its cities, villages, hill-tops, mountains, deserts and skies,” said an official who opened the ceremony in Benghazi, the place where the uprising erupted in February and which has been the headquarters for the National Transitional Council (NTC).

Salah el Ghazal, another offical who addressed the tens of thousands of people gathered for the celebrations, said Gaddafi’s death was “the humilitaing end that God wanted to set as example for anyone who practices the worst forms of injustice .. against their people”.

The liberation ceremony in Benghazi is expected to draw a million people from the eastern part of the country where the uprising against the dictator began last February.

Gaddafi’s bloody death last week announced the end of effective resistance by fighters loyal to his 42-year regime.

Reuters quoted a medical source as saying that a post mortem had revealed that Gaddafi’s body had a bullet in the head and in the abdomen.

Libya’s outgoing prime minister Mahmoud Jibril said the bullet that hit the dictator’s head may have been fired by one of his own guards during a shootout with government forces in his hometown of Sirte.

Arguments have now arisen between Libya’s factions about what to do with Gaddafi’s corpse, which has not been accorded the swift burial required by Islamic law.

I think that the fledgling Libyan government will understand that its reputation in the international community is a little bit stained by what happened. Philip Hammond

On Sunday, Britain followed the US, UN and human rights groups in calling for an investigation into the circumstances of the ousted leader’s death.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the NTC’s reputation had been “a little bit stained” by the way Gaddafi died at the hands of his captors.

Graphic footage broadcast around the world from the scene showed a wounded and bleeding Gaddafi being manhandled by fighters loyal to the NTC before apparently being shot.

“It is not the way we would have liked it to have happened. We would have liked to see Col Gaddafi going on trial, ideally at the International Criminal Court, to answer for his misdeeds,” Mr Hammond said.

“I think that the fledgling Libyan government will understand that its reputation in the international community is a little bit stained by what happened.

“I am sure that it will want to get to the bottom of it in a way that rebuilds and cleanses that reputation.”

Such concerns are unlikely to be paramount in the minds of many Libyans as they celebrate the beginning of a new era in their country’s history.

Tripoli resident Najat Nabit said: “The most important thing is for us to be unified and to be all together and not to allow other people to ridicule us.

“We have war and conspiracy going on and we should not allow these things to effect us. We are Muslim people who are non-violent. And we are honest and a kind people. We are kind but we are not stupid. Nor apathetic.”

Manziyad Marwan said: “We had a huge celebration when Libyan became independent in 1951. Today Libya is declaring independence again in 2011. Thank God we are done with him after 42 years and we have freedom again, thank God.”