Bloomberg News

Libyans Mark Revolt Anniversary Amid Criticism of Government

February 17, 2012

(Updates with statement from the White House in third- fifth paragraphs.)

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Thousands of Libyans gathered in Tripoli to mark the first anniversary of the start of the uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi.

Flags decorated public buildings and streets in the capital. Security was tightened, with roadblocks set up and militias from across the country brought into the capital, after Saadi Qaddafi, a son of the late ruler, last week predicted a loyalist “uprising” today.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s spokesman issued a statement saying while it “will take time” to build a democracy in Libya, the National Transitional Council must make its decisions “openly and transparently” and revolutionaries who toppled Qaddafi “now have a responsibility” to enable stability, peace and reconciliation.

“Last February, few could imagine that the peaceful protesters in cities from Benghazi to Tripoli would bring down a four-decade-old dictatorship,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said the statement.

“Through their courage and great sacrifice, and with the support of the United States and an international coalition, the Libyan people defeated a brutal regime and won their freedom,” Carney said.

Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council declared victory on Oct. 23, three days after Qaddafi’s death at the hands of rebel fighters. Since then, authorities have struggled to create a unified administration and revive the economy as they prepare for national elections due in June. Protests accusing the NTC of incompetence and secrecy are widespread.

Amnesty International said in a report this week that detainees have been tortured and sometimes killed by militias that the government is unable to control. “The authorities have not moved on a single case,” Donatella Rovena, who helped compile the report, said in a phone interview.

--With assistance from Caroline Alexander in London and Margaret Talev in Washington. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Justin Blum

To contact the reporter on this story: Clare Stephens in London at cstephens14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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