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Libyans Put Aside Woes to Celebrate Uneasy Anniversary

18 Feb 2013

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Libyans celebrating

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, reports Reuters.

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.

Additional security measures have been taken in the run-up to the anniversary - Libya's borders with Tunisia and Egypt were closed and some international flights suspended amid fears of a new outbreak of violence.

All three North African countries have toppled autocrats since the start of 2011 and all three have political violence, inexperienced leadership and weak economies.

in Libya, security is a particular headache in Benghazi, where violence against foreigners and police assassinations have become common. While many celebrated, others watched soberly.

Tags: News, Africa, Libyan, Celebrate, UNEASY, ANNIVERSARY

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