By Umar Khan.
Tripoli, 22 November 2013:
More than two thousand gathered in the Abu Harida square to remember the dead of Gharghour . . .[restrict]massacre and celebrate the thus-far limited pullouts from Tripoli by armed formations.
There was much chanting in support of the police and national army and against the continued presence of the brigades.
The head of Tripoli Local Council, Sadat Elbadri, who has emerged as a central figure in the drive to clear Tripoli of all militias, gave a speech in which he called for the strike and civil disobedience to continue until the last armed formation leaves the capital.
Elbadri had said that the protest ‘was more of a celebration’. However it actually turned into an anti-Zeidan demo, as the organisers and most of the crowd chanted against the prime minister.
Sadat Elbadri came to the podium to amidst shouts of “Zeidan the coward, Sadat is in the square”. He had to stop his speech several times because of more chanting by the crowd.
“This is the square that will write the history of Libya” he said, “We are fighting not for the security of Tripoli but for all Libya. This is a message for all the armed formations to leave now. It is the time to build a state and its institutions. The civil disobedience will continue until each and every armed formation is out of the capital”.
Elbadri’s call to continue the strike bring him into direct confrontation with Zeidan, who just yesterday announced that people should return to work on Sunday and that no local entity had the right to announce the closure of work.
Elbadri also said that the TLC was closely monitoring the movements and withdrawal of brigades, to confirm if the evacuations were real or just for public show. He also thanked the countries that offered to treat the injured of Gharghour tragedy. Elbadri said, “Italy, Britain, Turkey, Tunis, Greece and Egypt have all offered to treat our injured.”
In another speech, an executive from the Islamic Call Society claimed that the buildings under the Al-Sawaiq brigade had not in fact been handed back to the organisation.
However, not everyone in the crowd shared the anti-government mood. Some deplored the fact that what should have been demonstration against the brigades, had been turned into an anti-government protest.
There were many interesting points in the protest including the distribution of croissants by different groups and Elbadri eating one. Croissant or locally referred to as ‘brioche’ has become a symbol of this drive against the brigades. Croissants were also distributed at yesterday’s ceremony of handing over the Quwat Alrada’s headquarters at the Mitiga base.
The protest was protected by dozens of police and army cars, which had blocked the nearby roads to provide greater security to the protest.