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The revolt which ousted Gaddafi - one year on

Publish date: 21 February 2012
Issue Number: 467
Diary: Legalbrief Africa Old
Category: Libya

Libyans have marked the anniversary of the uprising that led to the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi who ruled the country for more than 40 years.

Legalbrief reports that celebrations were held in towns and cities across the country over the weekend. Friday marked one year since the first major demonstration against Gaddafi's rule in Benghazi, which became the rebel stronghold. The bloody uprising quickly spread around the country and led eventually to Nato's military intervention in the conflict. The government this weekend marked the occasion by announcing that it would give each family more than $1 500 and pay unemployed former rebels who fought in the war that ousted Gaddafi. The Daily Star reports that the move is clearly an attempt to win over those who want faster progress. Prime Minister Abdul-Rahim al-Qeeb said families whose relatives were killed or were still missing would receive monthly aid, according to the report which notes he said jobless former fighters would receive payment for the past year until the end of the month. He said students would also receive financial grants but did not say how much. The report says the transitional government appointed in November is leading Libya towards elections in June but is struggling to restore services and impose order on a country that is awash with weapons. Full report in The Daily Star

It has been a year since Libya joined the Arab Spring uprisings, six months since the regime collapsed and four months since Gaddafi's execution by rebel captors. A report on the site notes that the reviews of Libya's de facto President Mustafa Abdul-Jalil's fragile state are downbeat. Rival militias, powerful tribes, well-organised Islamists and semi-autonomous cities such as Misrata openly defy his weak administration. Ordinary Libyans are fed up with the car thefts and the carousing of the militiamen they once hailed as heroic warriors, and they blame Abdul-Jalil for not standing up to the paramilitary commanders, according to the report. Full report on the site

When Abdullah Senussi ordered the arrest of lawyer Fethi Tarbel on 15 February last year, Libya's then intelligence chief did not realise he was effectively signing the death warrant of Gaddafi's regime. A report on the News24 site notes that Tarbel, a human rights activist and former political prisoner, was the co-ordinator of one of the few independent organisations in Libya - a group of families of victims of the Abu Salim prison massacre, where more than 1 200 political prisoners were killed by security forces in 1996. Today Tarbel (39) is the new Libya's Youth and Sports Minister. The report says Libya's new leaders have adopted 17 February as the start of the anti-Gaddafi uprising, and local councils will host events on Friday to mark its first official anniversary. But for the young lawyer turned government minister, the revolution began two days earlier. Last Wednesday, hundreds of people in Benghazi commemorated one year since the initial protest to secure Tarbel's release by lighting a torch and marching through the main streets of Libya's second city, according to the report. Full report on the News24 site

One of the first trials for thousands of Libyans detained on suspicion of links to the ousted regime of Gaddafi is turning into a prime example of how ill-equipped the country's justice system is to handle the cases. At a hearing in Benghazi last week, a Gaddafi-era judge in a Gaddafi-era military courtroom planned to hear evidence against 50 people accused of the Gaddafi-era crime of 'treason against the revolution'. However, a report on the News24 site notes that the judge postponed the hearing because the militia that has detained the defendants refused to bring them to court. According to the report, the case underlines how much power still lies with the hundreds of militias that fought Gaddafi's troops during the eight-month civil war that ended last October. In addition, says the report, it indicates how little progress the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) has made in filling the void left by the collapse of Gaddafi's regime with effective state institutions like courts. Full report on the News24 site

The African Union (AU) and South African Government's initial refusal to recognise Libya's NTC was not because of corruption through 'petrodollars', former President Thabo Mbeki said last week. 'The charge has been made that we took the positions we did to oppose the abuse of the United Nations Security Council to effect regime-change in Libya, because we had been corrupted by these petrodollars,' he said. 'Once again I would like unreservedly to repudiate the fabrications that have been propagated that the AU depended on Libya for its budget requirements, and that Libya supported the African National Congress in any way whatsoever during the period of our struggle against the apartheid regime prior to 1990.' A report on the News24 site notes that Mbeki was speaking at the annual Dullah Omar Memorial Lecture at the University of the Western Cape. According to a Mail & Guardian Online report, Mbeki framed Nato action in Libya, and the toppling Côte d'Ivoire's Laurent Gbagbo as products of persistent racism, describing them as the outcome of the 20th century's failure to solve what WEB du Bois in 1900 called ' the question of the colour bar'. In addition, the Cape Times reports that he said the UN gave free reign to the US, France and the UK to intervene in Libya without any evidence of war: 'The naked reality is that the relevant organs of the UN - the Security Council and the Office of the Secretary General - elected to betray their binding obligations in terms of international law, especially as prescribed by the UN Charter.' Full report on the News24 site Full Mail & Guardian Online report Full Cape Times report