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Libyans Mark Anniversary or Revolution in Spontaneity, Solemnity
February 19, 2012

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Celebrations are taking place across Libya to mark the first anniversary of the revolt that led to the ouster of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. These are not large, loud affairs, out of respect for those who died on both sides of the struggle.

The first major demonstration against Gadhafi and his regime took place on Feb. 17, 2011, in Benghazi, the country's second-largest city, which became the headquarters of the opposition and was, for a time, named the capital of the opposition-led country.

One year later, many Benghazi residents honked their car horns, set off firecrackers, and took part in otherwise spontaneous celebrations of their newfound freedom. A prayer vigil in Tripoli's Martyrs Square drew 2,000 people and was the more popular kind of activity.

Libya now has a government that is more representative of the entire country, starting with interim leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil. Troubles still confront the government, though. Many militia who banded together to fight against Gadhafi have gone back to fighting among one another. 

Some Gadhafi supporters have also announced that they will be forming a political party that will look to effect large-scale change in the country.

Gadhafi ruled the country for more than 40 years, after seizing power in a bloodless coup. Last year, he became the target of increasing opposition from Libyan people and from other countries. His refusal to stop firing on unarmed civilians resulted in United Nations Security Council resolutions that resulted in aerial bombardments that enabled the opposition to gain a foothold that they never lost. At one point, Gadhafi was within a day or two of taking control of Benghazi and possibly ending the opposition. But NAFO airstrikes and economic help from Qatar and other nations turned Gadhafi's troops and eventually created a roll-back all the way to Tripoli. Gadhafi himself was killed in his hometown of Sirte on October.

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