By Callum Paton.
Tripoli, 23 May 2014:
Hundreds of demonstrators flocked to Tripoli’s Martyrs Square today after Friday prayers in support of Khalifa Hafter’s “Dignity” as well as the police and the official military and to protest against the presence of militias in Libya.
In what has been dubbed the “Friday of Dignity”, the largely well spirited protestors held placards and banners bearing the word ‘Karama’ , the Arabic name for General Khalifa Hafter’s “Dignity Operation” in Benghazi. Others waved signs saying “we are all with Hifter”.
Police and military personnel at the demonstration were treated like heroes by the crowds. Some were raised on the shoulders of the protestors to chants of “the people and the army are one hand”. In the late afternoon a convoy of vehicles from the Ministry of Defence made circuits of the square to the applause of onlookers.
However, anger was directed against the General National Congress (GNC), the Central Libya Shield forces and GNC President Nuri Abu Sahmain who was described as a parasite in a particularly popular chant.
Similar protests took place today in Benghazi. Demonstrators in the capital showed their support with the beleaguered eastern city shouting “with our hearts and our blood, we will support Benghazi”.
The protests came one week after Khalifa Hafter began his “Dignity Operation” in Benghazi and five days after Sunday’s assault on the GNC. While turnout for the protest was modest it was the largest in Tripoli in recent months.
Not all protestors could be said to be supporters of General Hafter but there seemed little to divide those who wish to see a stronger police and military in Libya and those who support the eastern general.