By Noora Ibrahim and Tom Westcott.
Benghazi/Tripoli, 14 February 2014:
Protesters continuing to demonstrate against the extension of the General National Congress (GNC) . . .[restrict]were today joined by those supporting the idea of a military coup d’etat.
In Benghazi, hundreds flocked onto the streets and headed for the Tibesti Hotel. Placards denouncing the GNC mingled with those declaring support for a military coup, which was promoted by General Khalifa Hafter on Al-Arabiya channel this morning.
When claims of troops in Tripoli and cut communications were proven to be false, the idea was widely described, including by Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, as laughable.
Some, however, especially in the East, have viewed it as a welcome alternative to what they see as the ineffective and failing institutions of the government and the GNC. “We support the initiative of Khalifa Hafter,” one banner outside the Tibesti read.
“Nothing could be worse that what we have already,” a Benghazi protester told the Libya Herald. “There are killings every day and the Libyan people are afraid.” He added that everyone in Benghazi who tried to do something good became a target. Some protesters carried posters of young anti-GNC activist Abdulla Mohammed Al-Senussi Al-Gharyiani, who survived an attempt on his life last week.
“When will this end?” the protester asked. “Today, a soldier is killed, tomorrow a girl and one day people will be too scared to leave their homes.”
Other protesters continued to denounce the extension of the GNC, with banners reading: “Democracy is just a word – we do not have democracy.”
In Tripoli, Martyrs’ Square was the scene of a modest anti-GNC protest. Some 200 people this afternoon gathered to listen to speeches railing against the GNC which, speakers said, had no legitimacy after its original mandate expired, they claimed, on 7 February. Today’s protest was noticeably smaller than that held last week in Martyrs’ Square although, as dusk fell, many more cars were seen heading towards the square.
Further protests were reported elsewhere in Libya, including in Beida, Zawia, Ajdabiya and Wershafana. Demonstrations were also staged in the southern towns of Obari and Murzuk, although none were held in Sebha, where the security situation remains unstable.
Since protests began last Friday, six members of Congress have resigned.