On Saturday, clashes between anti-militia protesters and the militia in Tripoli resulted in a raised death toll of 43. More than 500 are reported injured and it is presumed to be the worst violence since the fall of Gaddafi. The weak post-Gaddafi government is appealing for clashes to end and militias to depart from the city.
Many in the community called for the street protests and strikes. Growing sentiment in Tripoli hopes the protests will rally the government to drive out militias who continue to create unrest and hassle citizens. Anger grows over the death of 43 people from Friday’s clashes in Tripoli. Even the imams gave approval for the protests at the Friday sermons.
It is estimated that hundreds of protesters gathered in Martyrs Square on Saturday for the funerals from Friday’s casualties.
The militias were not always feared. When Gaddafi was originally overthrown, the rebels were considered heroes. As the 40-year dictatorship ended, rebels morphed into mafia militia and extorted citizens.
The violence on Saturday began with protesters waving white flags marched up to the base of the militia Misrata and shouted for them to leave Tripoli.
The Misrata militia base was a villa and the gunmen originally just fired shots into the air to scare off protesters. Reports say protesters kept advancing and eventually militiamen shot directly into he crowd and threw grenades.
Just last month, the Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, was abducted by the militia. He told reporters that the clashes need to end and clarified that “the coming hours and days will be decisive for the history of Libya.” Now, local authorities have called for a strike that is to begin Sunday for all public and private sectors in Tripoli.
The rebels continue unrest because they refuse to lay down the arms that toppled the Gaddafi government. Some militias are working with the current government and were used at checkpoints in Tripoli for the funerals Saturday.
The Misrata militia told reporters that protesters were armed. The al-Ahrar television station released the statement made by the militia leader, Taher Basha Agha, when he declared “it was not a peaceful demonstration. They carried light arms and shot at us.”
It has been two years since the dictatorship under Gaddafi ended and still there is no constitution. It is the rifts between secular Libyans and Islamists paralyzing parliament. Saturday violence in Tripoli continued as Misrata militia and opposing militias clashed again. One more was reported dead. Just last year, 30 anti militia protesters were killed in Benghazi.
The head of the Tripoli local council, Saadat al-Badry, told reporters that the city wants all militias not from Tripoli to leave and insisted investigations into the violence on Friday will continue.
He then declared the strike for three days and stated that if the city’s demands are not made it will continue. “We will not negotiate with them. Things are as clear as the sun, we want a decision.”
Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, implored that “the existence of weapons outside the army and police is dangerous.” His speech directly followed the clashes in Tripoli. The sentiment in the city remains united for the same outcome as he clarified that “all armed militias need to leave Tripoli, without exception.”
By Cayce Manesiotis