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[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): Protesters storm Libyan government HQ in Benghazi

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 2012 12:33:57 +0100

Protesters storm Libyan government HQ in Benghazi

Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:51pm GMT

* Demonstrators demand sacking of Gaddafi-era officials

* NTC chairman jeered

(Adds quotes, details)

By Mohammad Al Tommy

BENGHAZI, Libya, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Protesters stormed the Benghazi
headquarters of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) on
Saturday while its chairman was still in the building.

People in Benghazi, birthplace of the revolt which forced out former Libyan
leader Muammar Gaddafi, have been protesting for weeks to demand the sacking
of Gaddafi-era officials and more transparency about how the NTC is spending
Libyan assets.

The attack is a serious blow to the self-appointed but internationally
recognised NTC, and underscores growing discontent over the way it is
running the country.

Many of those who fought in the nine-month civil war that ended with the
capture and killing of Gaddafi in October are unhappy with cash
compensations promised by the government, saying it does not cover their
basic needs.

On a Saturday, hundreds of young men, many wounded from the war, rallied
outside the NTC's headquarters.

When Abdul Jalil, NTC chairman, came out in an attempt to address the crowd,
some protesters hurled empty plastic bottles at him, prompting security
forces to fire tear gas.

"Go away, Go away," the protesters chanted as Abdul Jalil spoke. He then
went back into the building but he is believed to have been pulled to safety
from a back door when the crowd charged into the building.


Protesters threw stones and metal bars at the building, breaking its
windows, before storming the headquarters. One protester left the building
carrying a set of loudspeakers and screaming: "Spoils of war!"

Angry protesters also damaged a Toyota Land Cruiser used by Abdul Jalil.

"A large number of wounded people were unhappy because the National
(Transitional) Council has not met their demands," said 30-year-old Tareq
al-Gheryani as he watched people attacking the NTC's headquarters.

"People are not happy with the council because it has also given government
posts to people who are known to have links with Gaddafi."

Interim government officials say it is impossible for them sack hundreds of
officials merely because they served under Gaddafi, but stress that those
proved to have been involved in human rights abuses or financial fraud will
be fired.

The NTC is grappling with problems, including the disbanding of dozens of
powerful militias that effectively control the country. The ministries of
interior and defence want to integrate them into a military and police
force, but militia chiefs have shown little interest in surrendering their

On Thursday, Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, vice president of the NTC, was roughed up by
university students in Benghazi. He was surrounded by a crowd and jostled
before he was pulled away to safety. (Reporting by Mohamad Al-Tommy; Writing
by Mahmoud Habboush and Christian Lowe; Editing by Andrew Roche)

C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved


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