Op-Ed by Khalid Najem: Benghazi is liberated and it’s having an election – Al Marsad

“Benghazi is liberated and it’s having an election”

This is the slogan of activists in Benghazi aiming to restore the momentum that their home city is known for.

Benghazi has long been a place that makes history and seeks innovation. Throughout history, it has witnessed events and changes which have generally reflected the situation throughout teh country. But civil activism and such movements have declined in Benghazi over the past four years because of Operation Karama’s battle against terrorism, led by the national army which ultimately emerged victorious. That battle was the culmination of a civil struggle against terrorism that had started rejecting and refusing terrorism in 2012.

It was on 21 September that year, ten days after the attack by terrorists on the city’s US diplomatic compound that resulted in the deaths of American ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US diplomatic staff that tens of thousands of people joined the protest “Rescuing Benghazi”. They came in answer to calls by city activists, among them the martyr Abdul Salam al-Mismari. At least 10 people were killed and many more wounded when terrorists fired on the protestors that day. Mismari himself was later murdered in Benghazi on 26 July 2013.  Since then other activists in Benghazi were also killed by the terrorists – journalist Muftah Bouzid on 26 May 2014 and human rights activist Salwa Bughaighis just a month later. So many other security officials and army officers were likewise murdered. But the demonstrations and protests continued.

People have the right under to the Law 59 of 2012, to freely choose their representatives on an elected municipal council to manage their service institutions. That is especially needed at this time in Benghazi when the city needs reconstruction, with so much damaged infrastructure and buildings. There also the need to eradicate the administrative and financial corruption that is rampant in so many institutions.

Activists and civil society organizations in Benghazi have called for the urgent need to hold elections for the city’s municipal council. They intend to organize a demonstration to this end purpose on Friday in front of the Tibesti Hotel.

In my view, the return and mobilisation of civil society activists is an affirmation of the return of life to the city which lifts high the slogan: “You fight us with death; we fight you with life.”


Opinion and Op-Ed articles do not necessarily reflect the views of Almarsad