A year after the execution of former Libyan despot Moammar Gadhafi at the hands of Western-backed rebels, forces opposed to the new Tripoli-based regime ruling parts of Libya are still fighting on. According to news reports, assorted Libyan militias supposedly aligned with the embattled new government have been shelling the Gadhafi-loyalist stronghold of Bani Walid all weekend in a bid to quash the late dictator’s remaining die-hard supporters.
Officials with the new government said the fighting reflected the fact that not all of Libya had been “liberated” yet. “The campaign to liberate the country has not been fully completed,” said Libyan “National Assembly” President Mohammed Megaryef, claiming a vast conspiracy among Gadhafi loyalists was afoot. “Bani Walid’s misfortune is that it has become a sanctuary for a large number of outlaws and anti-revolutionaries and mercenaries.”
According to Megaryef, who spoke about the conflict on national television Friday, part of the problem was the fact that the new government has not been able to rein in the various militia factions still in charge throughout most of Libya. It has also failed to build a credible police force or military of its own, relying instead on militias that were armed and trained by Western powers and assorted Arab dictatorships before and during the uprising that eventually ousted the Gadhafi regime from Tripoli.
“This lack of care has led to the spread of chaos that has lured the old regime to infiltrate the country’s institutions inside and to conspire with the regime loyalists on the outside,” Megaryef said, assuring Libyans that the fight was not against any particular tribe, region, or unarmed civilians. “And the chaos has lured others to kidnappings, stealing, and to create non-legitimate prisons. What has happened in Bani Walid in the last few days falls under this.”
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Photo: Libyan army vehicles drive up to the demonstration after firing their heavy machine guns to disperse the crowd of few hundred protesters from Bani Walid in front of parliament: AP Images