Monday, 26 December 2011

Libya independence: King Idris anniversary celebrated


Libyan revellers gathered in Tripoli to celebrate the return of their nation's Independence Day
Libya has celebrated the anniversary of its independence from Italy and France - for the first time in 42 years.
The United Libyan Kingdom was formed on 24 December 1951 under King Idris. But after Col Muammar Gaddafi seized power in 1969, only the coup date in September was allowed to be marked.
In Tripoli, crowds marched from Martyrs Square to the former Royal Palace, chanting "No more Gaddafi!"
Separately, the economy minister who had served under Col Gaddafi resigned.
Taher Sharkas was appointed by the former leader just two months before his capture and death at the hands of rebels in October.
Mr Sharkas resigned after weeks of rallies, during which protesters had demanded the exclusion of former regime officials from the cabinet.
Mass lunch scrapped
The day's central event was a march to the former Royal Palace, which currently houses the country's national museum.

Analysis

It is an immensely symbolic moment for Libyans as they mark the 60th anniversary of independence.
This is a day in which people feel that the huge challenges facing post-Gaddafi Libya will be put to one side. The tasks include forming a new national identity bringing together the different regions and tribes under a new strong central government.
But the priority today is the party, which is expected to go on long into the night. People feel that this is a second freedom now, a freedom from 42 years of Gaddafi.
"Today, we begin the building of Libya as our forefathers have done," Prime Minister Abdurrahim al-Keib from the National Transitional Council said.
"We call on our sons to build Libya after its destruction," he added.
One of those present at the celebrations, Prince Idris bin Abdullah al-Senussi, who was among the royal family members forced into exile, told the BBC that he had dreamed of being able to one day return to Libya.
"Libyans are determined to build a country, to have a democracy," he said.
"I think they will never accept any more somebody to dictate or humiliate them. Libyans will run their country by themselves."
However, a planned mass lunch for several thousand people in Tripoli was cancelled for security reasons.
Even today, many Libyans remain unaware of the significance of 24 December - the anniversary was not celebrated during Col Gaddafi's four-decade rule.

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