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Libyans mark seven years since uprising that toppled Gaddafi

Despite the political and economic chaos, Libyans in Tripoli celebrated the 2011 uprising [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 February, 2018

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In Tripoli, Libyans thronged the central Martyrs' Square waving the country's red-green-black flag, marking seven years since the uprising that led to Gaddafi's fall.

Thousands of Libyans on Saturday marked the seventh anniversary of the start of protests that ousted dictator Moammar Gaddafi, with rallies and concerts despite the country's political and economic woes.

In the capital Tripoli, and across many cities in the North African country, thousands packed public squares where the authorities were organising concerts and other festivities.

But Libya remains riven with divisions since the chaos that followed the 2011 NATO-backed uprising, with rival militias, tribes and jihadists vying for influence across the country.

The UN-backed unity government - the Government of National Accord - has failed to assert its authority as a rival administration in the country's east led by military strongman Khalifa Haftar attempts to seize control.

Tripoli-based Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj acknowledged his government's shortcomings in a televised speech on Saturday, and called for national reconciliation.

"Maybe a regime has ended, but the truth is we have not managed to rid ourselves of a culture that has dominated the minds and behaviour of many people, who today are at the forefront of politics and who consider the homeland as booty," Sarraj said.

National reconciliation, he said, was key to a solution to end divisions in Libya and ease the crisis facing the country.

Sarraj also accused countries, which he did not name, of "fuelling" the Libyan conflict and called on them to stop intervening in his homeland.

Read more: What does 2018 hold for Libya?

In Tripoli, Libyans thronged the central Martyrs' Square waving the country's red-green-black flag.

Boy scouts marched and concerts as well as fireworks were planned as part of the festivities, which were kicked off on Friday.

"Maybe 2018 will be a good year for Libya," said Mohsen Ali, a civil servant, who brought his wife and two small children to Martyrs' Square.

"We must start the year well so that good things happen," he added.

But if some were keen on celebrating the start of protests in 2011 that led to the toppling and killing of Gaddafi, others took to social media to declare there was nothing worth celebrating.

Every day life is a struggle for Libyans, who face constant electricity cuts, cash shortages, a drop in the national currency and a dire public services.

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