Libya marks independence for first time
TRIPOLI, Libya - The Associated PressFor the first time in more than four decades, Libyans Dec. 24 celebrated the 60th anniversary of the country’s independence from Italy and France, as the economy minister resigned after the protests demanding officials of the former regime to be removed from new posts.
Under Moammar Gadhafi’s 42-year rule, the celebration was scrapped and instead, only the 1969 date of his coup was marked. “Today we begin the building of Libya as our forefathers have done,” Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib said during the celebration. “We call on our sons to build Libya after its destruction.” His remarks were part of an official ceremony in the capital Tripoli. At the National Transitional Council’s headquarters in Tripoli, ministers shared a cake and mingled with journalists. No family members of deposed King Idris, who were forced into exile in 1969, were in Libya for the ceremony.
Idris died in Cairo in 1983. Libya was occupied for decades by various nations, and it was not until 1947 that both Italy and France relinquished claims to parts of the country. The United Libyan Kingdom was announced with U.N. backing in late 1951 under King Idris. On the sidelines of the ceremony, the prime minister told reporters that the Economy Minister Taher Sharkas had resigned due to health reasons. The resignation comes after protests demanding that officials of the former regime be barred from serving in government. Sharkas had been appointed to the same post by Gadhafi just two months before the longtime leader’s capture and killing in October, a few three days before rebel fighters took over the capital, Tripoli.