In an emotional scene in Tripoli this evening, the head of Libya's National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, addressed a celebratory rally in Martyrs' Square (known as Green Square during the Qaddafi era). Jalil, a former justice minister who defected to the rebels early on in the uprising, arrived in Tripoli on Saturday after months of orchestrating the revolt against Muammar Qaddafi from Benghazi in the east. According to a live translation by NPR's Ahmed Al Omran, Jalil called for national unity, promised to provide basic services, the rule of law, and democratic institutions, and rejected retribution and Islamic extremism. Here he is in the middle of the picture below, raising his hands in victory:
The crowd was equally exuberant:
And there were fireworks:
Al Jazeera also has video of Jalil's red-carpet welcome at Tripoli's Metiga Airport on Saturday:
But despite the euphoria, Libya's new leaders still face significant obstacles. Muammar Qaddafi is still at large and his loyalists are continuing to put up resistance in Bani Walid, Sirte, and Sabha. The AP adds that Islamic conservatives are currently vying for power with more secular technocrats, as Jalil, the "sole figure in the leadership who enjoys almost universal support," remains stuck in the middle. The AP explains that the secular camp is headed by Mahmoud Jibril, the U.S.-educated acting prime minister who served briefly in the Qaddafi regime and spent a lot of time overseas meeting with foreign leaders during the civil war. The Islamists hail from groups like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and Muslim Brotherhood, which were oppressed under Qaddafi. The faction, whose most prominent member is Tripoli military council commander Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, controls the main military force in Tripoli and is calling for Jibril's resignation. Still, the AP adds that "the disputes for now appear to be primarily over personnel, and not deeply rooted in ideology."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.