Libya: Independence for the east?

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There are indications that Eastern Libya is now independent of Libya. Reports emanating from the city of Benghazi suggest that every element of Col Muammar Gaddafi’s influence in Eastern Libya has been broken. Tribes long hostile to the 68-year-old leader filled the streets in their thousands, lighting fireworks and waving the red, black and green flag of king Idris I- the man Gaddafi overthrew in 1969.

According to the Libya’s Quryna news website officials loyal to Gaddafi have left Eastern Libya and local committees were being organized across eastern towns to provide services, local people said.

In eastern cities in Libya, people have celebrated the liberation of the east of the country from the rule of Muammar Gaddafi. Many soldiers have withdrawn from active service.

“We have been suffering for 41 years. Gaddafi has killed people … We are a very rich country, but most of the people are poorer than poor.” AP quoted a 45-year-old Hamida Muftah in Benghazi as saying.

A military source cited by the Quryna newspaper said two pilots flew their planes to Malta to avoid attacking their own people a bomber earlier in the week. Another crew fled and left their aircraft to crash rather than bomb Benghazi.

The struggle to liberate Eastern Libya has claimed over 500 lives since protests against oppression and poverty began in Benghazi.

Libya’s Interior Minister Abdel Fattah Younes al Abidi resigned from the Gaddafi Foundation on Sunday to express dismay against violence. But experts say a lack of organized opposition groups in Libya may make any transition difficult.

Gaddafi’s son Sa’adi – a former professional footballer, told the Financial Times that Gaddafi military aircraft bombed areas around Benghazi but said they hit only bases to prevent Islamist radicals seizing arms.

According ot Sa’adi, Gaddafi would regain control of the east: “When the people see the army, they will be afraid.”

The United States and the European Union might impose sanctions to help end the violence which may have killed 1,000 people.

“It is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice. The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous,” President Barack Obama, said in his first public comments on the 10-day-old revolt.

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