‘New‘ Libya celebrates one year since revolution
By Philip Iglauer
The Libya’s diplomatic mission here marked in a reception in Seoul, Wednesday, one year since young Libyans in their teens and 20s in peaceful anti-government protests took up weapons in the face of a deadly crackdown by strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
The demonstrations were part of a wave of popular discontent dubbed the “Arab Spring,” which toppled elderly and out-of-touch regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, neighboring countries to its west and east, before spreading to Libya.
Libya then revolted, too, beginning on Feb. 17, 2011. Gaddafi was shot dead in October. Days later, the nation erupted for one last time ― in celebration, Oct. 23.
Despite the apparent last minute planning, as the press and many diplomats were informed of the reception just one day prior, scores of dignitaries, foreign envoys and the Arab expatriate community came out in a palpable show of support for the new Libyan government.
“Thank you for coming today to celebrate together for the first anniversary of the glorious revolution of the Feb. 17, which represents an important historical turning point in the life of the Libyan people, the Middle East and the world,” said Mohamed El Hamdi, Charge d’Affairs of the Libyan mission of the National Transitional Council.
Former head of mission Masaoud Alghali finished his five-year posting here on Jan. 21 and returned safely to Libya.
“(The revolution) has moved Libya from isolation and dictatorship to freedom and the prospect of prosperity and progress,” El Hamdi said.
“While we celebrate this occasion, we recall the pure souls of the righteous martyrs who have sacrificed for freedom enjoyed by the Libyan People today wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded and return the missing people to their families,” El Hamdi, 38, said in a welcoming speech on a dais bedecked with a large picture illustrating Libyan patriots raising the country’s new flag.
Revolutionary changes afoot in Libya proved raw among the expatriate community here. Four Libyans living in Korea tussled over a political argument after the reception, said Dafalla Bakait Kamal, an English-Arabic interpreter at the mission, who witnessed to the incident. Tempers flared when accusations of being pro-Gadhafi were leveled, Kamal said.
Diplomats quickly intervened and broke up the altercation and the four agreed to talk through their differences, he said.
It is estimated that some 30,000 Libyans died in eight months of fighting.
Libya’s interim government, the National Transitional Council, is readying the country for national assembly elections slated for June.
The new assembly will form a government and set up a panel to draft a new constitution.
“We note that the National Transitional Council issued constitutional declaration draft and election law, and the Libyan people will be invited to elect members of the National Congress,” El Hamdi said.
“I extend sincere congratulations to the Libyan people, calling Allah to bless and give our country more prosperity and bestow on Libya territorial and national unity and solidarity to build the new Libya.”
“I am pleased to take this opportunity to assure keen of Libya on the friendly and cooperation relationship with the Republic of Korea and respect all previous agreements and conventions singed with all parties,” he said.