From Tripolis newspaper
The towns of Fezzan —Sebha, Murzuk and Wadi Al-Ajaal — as well as many villages have complained about low . . .[restrict]living standards due to unfavourable political conditions in the entire area. The people are sad that their region was used as a military supply area for Qaddafi’s army. And their dissatisfaction consequently led to their joining the revolution. The inhabitants of Al-Qardah district sparked the revolution of 17 February which led to residents being martyred.
Curious about the living conditions in Fezzan, particularly after the success of the revolution and the return of people as much as possible, to their normal lives, we began a tour from Sebha to Murzuk and finally to Wadi Al-Ajaal in order to gain first-hand knowledge of the situation.
Tripolis Newspaper visited these residential districts and recorded the impressions, concerns and problems of the people there in addition to their aspiring to a unified country and a safe life in which their human dignity is respected.
We began with Mohammed Bashir Al-Senussi who said: ” I pray for the spirits of the martyrs, wish a speedy recovery to the injured and hope for a safe return of those people who are missing. Sebha today is fighting a ferocious battle to preserve the gains and objectives of the revolution. We are well aware that some sectors of society are not correctly informed because of the role played by the media of the defunct regime which has continued to mislead the people. Security must prevail and the random shootings which have brought tragedy to many must stop immediately. I appeal to the residents of Sebha to achieve solidarity and work with one hand to fight all forms of disparity, tribalism and regionalism. Their sole objective should be nation-building and this can only become reality by choosing skilled, qualified and patriotic people who will undertake the vital task of reconstruction at this most important point.”
We asked Dr Ramadan Aqeela, a professor at Sebha University, about the situation and he responded: “We are now focusing on security. If security prevails, life will be stable and we can continue our path towards our aims. If the government of Al-Keb succeeds in creating security by cooperating with the police and the army, this will be a resounding success for it. After this we will immediately embark on continuing the caravan of life. The collection of arms can only be successful through negotiations with the freedom fighters who will voluntarily lay down their arms once a state has been created. Every freedom fighter should return to his work. Academic pursuits have begun but they are proceeding slowly and students are slowly returning to school.”
Al-Mahdi Abdul-Hafiz Al-Farjani, a freedom fighter from Sebha: ” Yes, we are now enjoying freedom but our main problem is the spread of arms. The matter of security must be our top priority. The path of the revolution must be maintained by turning away from the supporters of the former regime. The local council in Sebha must be reconstituted.”
Sharif Abdul Hafiz Yousuf, a citizen from Sebha: ” The greatest achievement of the revolution was toppling the dictator. There are now problems facing us which are caused by a fifth column which impedes the path of the revolution in Sebha. We should establish a state of law and institutions for the public good.”
Bashir Mahyoub, one of the Al-Qardah freedom fighters: “Thank God for the success of the revolution. The biggest problem facing us in Sebha is people who pretend to be freedom fighters but are not. They steal and rob. Revolutionaries do not commit such heinous acts. The freedom fighters should return to their jobs. Security has yet to be achieved. The false freedom fighters have attacked the local council and its employees. They even held hostage a number of government officials.”
Khaled Al-Waleed: “I am a resident of this region. The most important problem facing us is a lack of security, especially at night. Security forces should be provided and they should maintain security and stability.”
Mohammad Al-Mahdi, a resident of Murzuk said: ” I am happy about the revolution and hope that it will take a moderate Sunni direction. People are unhappy about the absence of security, especially at night. The situation has, however, slightly improved over the last few days. Both the revolution and the state should support the Islamic nature of the country. They should also watch for non-governmental organizations whose sole objective is to destroy Islam. Some of them even call for Christianity, secularism and communism.”
Another citizen of Murzuk who preferred to remain anonymous said: “We hope that the revolution will bring great changes. Most of our problems in Murzuk are caused by tribal conflicts between the Tebu tribe and the original inhabitants. The conflict grew out of crimes of theft and murder committed by the Tebu who control most of the administrative and security departments. The revolution should focus on establishing security and reconciling the inhabitants and the Tebu. This reconciliation should be based on strong commitments, including trying criminals who have abused the revolution.”
Another citizen of Murzuk said: “There is no security in our region so there has been chaos. People are not secure after sunset. There are thefts in Murzuk committed during the night by armed people who are masked. We do not know who they are but this has to stop.”
A third citizen of Murzuk said: “The government should give attention to Murzuk and should endeavor to establish security in the area. Our schools and colleges are still closed. Murzuk has become a haven for criminals and there are armed gangs who pose as freedom fighters.”
A fourth citizen, a merchant, said: “The security situation is very serious. We have to close our shops after sunset and there are frequent power cuts.”
Abdul Moniem Hassan, a merchant from Murzuk, said: ‘ We are happy about the revolution and look forward to freedom and liberty. The defunct regime branded me an enemy and put me in jail. The biggest problem facing the revolution is the absence of security. There is no – or very little – liquidity in the banks. Electricity and communications are not dependable. We do not know our leaders in Murzuk. There is chaos and a power conflict in the region. We want fair elections and a free press.”
Ahmed Abdul Rahman,an employee from Murzuk, said: “I am happy about the blessed revolution which should now lead to the formation of a state. The mistrust between the freedom fighters and the government must be corrected. A fifth column still exists. The majority must rule in the South.”
Al-Sanousi Katalah, another employee, said: “We welcome change and modernization. The most important problem facing us in Murzuk is that we are unable to work together. It is as if there were two groups in the city.”
An employee, who did not want to be named, said: “I was with the revolution from the beginning. We in Murzuk worked with one hand until Qaddafi stabbed us with a poison dagger. He brought Chadians to live among us. This has created a number of problems for us including theft, murder, the burning of houses and other terrible crimes. The Chadians have been armed since the 1980s and they are now committing all sorts of crimes which the National Transitional Council is aware of. The problem could be solved by sending the Chadians back to their country. As for the Tebus, they have become Libyans and residents of Murzuk.”
A woman employee at the College of Accounting in Murzuk said: “At first I was skeptical of the revolution but when I learned its objectives, I welcomed it. Our main problems are caused by the armed Tebus who come from Chad. There has also been a deterioration in health services, communications and electrical services. The government should give more attention to Murzuk.”
Another woman said: “The revolution has not yet succeeded. Conditions were better before the revolution. A lack of security is our main concern. The shops close after sunset and the banking services are very poor. There are thefts and aggression. The government should restore security and select qualified people to run the affairs of the city. The Tebos control all the service departments. We hope the government will listen to our cries.”
A third woman said: “The revolution did not liberate the entire city which still has armed gangs pretending to be freedom fighters. They are robbing people, taking houses and stealing sheep. The government should intervene quickly to rid us of the illegal migrants and confiscate their arms. The government took the citizens’ weapons and left them with the Tebos. ”
Abdullah Al-Senussi, a lawyer, said: “All that we need is security. I call on all the people to return to their work until security has been achieved and Libya is a free country again.”
Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Senussi Bashir, chairman of the Council of Wise Men and the Shoura in Murzuk, said: “The revolution is our hope for change and reform. We have to create a state of law. Murzuk has been marginalized since the time of Qaddafi and it still is. We need true democracy so that we can enjoy freedom in all its forms. Freedom will cater for the needs of the people. Qualified persons must be appointed to run the affairs of the city. The problem of the Tebus was created by Qaddafi who ignited hostility between them and the residents. The Tebus came from Ozo which is a Chadian area. The law of nationality may solve the problem. It will decide who deserves Libyan nationality and who does not. The situation has recently improved slightly. The random shooting and attacks on individuals have stopped. The attorney general is now working to resolve the remaining problems. The military council is in control of the situation. Security in Fezzan and Murzuk has top priority and this is official policy.”
Dr Hameed Kilaish, from Murzuk, said: “I was happy about the revolution. The problems we are facing all stem from the lack of security. The revolution and the government should give greater attention to the security in our region.”
Fatima Abdullah, a citizen of Murzuk, called on all Libyans to reconcile and return to tolerance and forgiving. “People should not look back. They should unite for a better future and for the advancement of Libya so as to keep pace with the advanced world.”
Khadija Abdul Qadir, a woman from Murzuk, said she was with the revolution from day one. “We are facing problems with electricity, health, education and communications. Society is not enlightened enough to accept change. Some people are still clinging to the past. Materially, the government can fix what has been destroyed but people need to be enlightened through education, training, awareness campaigns and conferences,” she said.
Ali Mohammed Al-Musleh, from Wadi Al-Ajaal, said the revolution was an uprising against injustice, dictatorship and tyranny. He said a lack of security and the spread of arms are the main problems facing the revolution. “We have other problems such as liquidity in banks and also education. The government must impose its sovereignty and must reactivate the role of the ministries of security and the national army,” he said.
Ahmed Al-Muslem, another citizen from Wadi Al-Ajaal, said the revolution had surprised the world and restored the dignity of the Libyan people. “The main problem we are facing in Fezzan is the spread of weapons and the lack of an effective role by the ministries of defense and interior. We should fight the phenomenon of bribes and usury in the banks. The Libyan banks need corrections which will replace corrupt employees. We are unable to get our voices heard by the government due to the absence of media tools,” he said.
Al-Haj Mohammed Al-Musleh, a citizen from Wadi Al-Ajaal, asked for the formation of a strong and effective government. “There is no security. We are not satisfied. The streets are unstable. The National Transitional Council (NTC) is very weak and its performance is very poor. Prices are high and salaries are low. There are frequent power cuts. There is no medicine in hospitals and no liquidity in banks,” he said.
Yusuf Al-Musleh, another citizen said: “We support and bless the revolution. The banks suffer from a scarcity of liquidity and mismanagement. Foodstuffs and meat are very expensive. A basic infrastructure does not exist. The government should bring in foreign companies which would rebuild the country.”
Muftah Hamid complained of thefts, fraud and con artists. He asked the government to establish security, to establish sufficient liquidity in banks and to monitor prices.
The residents of Fezzan, Sebha, Murzuk, Wadi Al-Ajaal and other villages were unanimous in their complaints against a lack of security, theft, robberies, the spread of arms, random shootings, deteriorating health and education conditions, high prices and low salaries. They also called on freedom fighters to lay down their weapons and return to a normal life. They called for national unity and stopping of illegal immigration. All hope that Libya will soon be a free country again.