The Straits Times
Published on Oct 24, 2012

Libya marks 1st 'liberation' anniversary amid tension


TRIPOLI (AFP) - Libya on Tuesday celebrates the first anniversary of its "liberation" from the regime of Muammar Gaddafi, even as fighting flared in a former bastion of the slain dictator.

On Oct  23, 2011, just three days after Gaddafi was captured and killed in his hometown Sirte, the transitional authorities declared the country's liberation, formally ceasing hostilities.

The day was observed as a public holiday and the new defacto head of state, Mohammed Megaryef, was due to address the nation later in the evening, the official Lana news agency reported. Cars cloaked with the national flag cruised the capital from the early morning, their speakers pumping out patriotic songs at full volume. People gathered at Martyrs Square after sundown with youth setting off fire crackers.

In Benghazi, hundreds of people massed outside Tibesti Hotel to mark the one-year anniversary but also demand that the eastern city, cradle of the uprising that toppled the regime, become the "economic capital." Fierce clashes in Bani Walid, one of the final bastions of the former regime which is accused of harbouring die-hard Gaddafi loyalists, have cast a pall over celebrations.