By Libya Herald staff.
Benghazi, 28 February 2014:
Local residents again took to the streets of Benghazi today to protest against ongoing assassinations . . .[restrict]and the general deteriorating security situation in the city.
Angry demonstrators gathered outside the Tibesti Hotel, carrying banners and chanting, with dissatisfaction focusing on the lack of government action in tackling bombings and systematic assassinations that have plagued the city for over a year. Protestors said that, although men of Benghazi were being killed on a daily basis, the General National Congress (GNC) and the government did nothing except release statements condemning the attacks.
They called for the activation of the army and police force to implement proper security measures and put an end to criminal activities in the city. Some protestors spoke out against the Muslim Brotherhood and Ansar Al-Sharia, the latter of which some claim are behind the ongoing assassinations in the city.
There was also criticism of Benghazi’s Special Forces, which some said should be doing more to fight extremist elements and curb attacks in the city.
“We are disappointed to not see the Special Forces on the streets fighting extremists but we understand because they have Bukhamada’s son,” one said, in reference to the kidnap of Special Forces Commander Wanis Bukhamada’s son in January. The protestor suggested that the Special Forces, which is widely seen as one of Benghazi’s strongest weapons against criminal gangs, should have a different commander until Bukhamada’s son was released.
Other groups of protestors spoke out in support of General Khalifa Hafter, reportedly going to a house belonging to him and calling on him to make a speech. They urged him to take the lead and implement his road-map which, when he announced it earlier in the month, was misconstrued as a coup. He later described it as “a correction to the path of the revolution.”
Addressing the crowds, Hafter said that he had a security plan for Benghazi. In what smacked of a repetition of his previous and, it transpired, unsubstantiated claims with regard to Tripoli, he said he had armed units under his command that would mobilise when instructed. He added that GNC members and even Prime Minister Ali Zeidan would be arrested if they came to Benghazi.
Although Hafter has some support in the East, his ideas and threats are widely seen as having no foundation, particularly after the “coup” attempt in Tripoli.
A counter-protest was reported in the city’s Liberty Square, where a different set of people denounced Hafter and gave their support to the extension of the GNC.
Anti-GNC and government protestors marched around central Benghazi before returning to the Tibesti where, this evening, the road remained closed with at least 100 people were still demonstrating.
Tripoli residents today congregated in Algeria Square in a demonstration declaring the capital’s solidarity with Benghazi. The protestors demanded that the Libyan authorities take swift and serious action to stop the ongoing violence and assignations in Benghazi, according to Libyan news agency LANA.
Today’s action in Benghazi followed protests on Wednesday, where roads were closed and blocked with burning tyres, and partial strikes yesterday, which left many schools and shops closed. These demonstrations were also against the government and its lack of response to killings in the city. [/restrict]