By Essam Mohamed in Tripoli and Asmaa Elourfi in Benghazi
The National Transitional Council moved ahead on Wednesday (March 23rd) with building a team for the new Libya.
Former international affairs envoy and new Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril named Libya’s former chief diplomat, Ali Al-Isawi, to head foreign affairs and handed senior rebel commander Khalifa Hafter the defence portfolio.
Tripoli will be the seat of the new government, once the city has been liberated, Council spokesman Abdelhafiz Ghogha said.
The international coalition, meanwhile, continues to pound pro-Kadhafi fighters. The regime forces withdrew from Misrata on Wednesday after facing coalition airstrikes. On Thursday, they resumed their bombardments of the city, attacking the area near the main hospital. Battles raged in Ajdabiya and Zintane between pro- and anti-Kadhafi forces.
In a show of solidarity for embattled rebels, protesters on Wednesday marched in Benghazi, Derna, Beida and Tobruk. They held up an independence flag as well as French, Egyptian and Qatari flags.
Some carried pictures of their loved ones who perished in the Libya battles, demanding an investigation to hold perpetrators accountable. The protesters chanted: “We are not asking for money, we are asking for the missing and the jailed ones”, “Libya is national unity” and “Tell Moamer and his family that Libya has real men”.
On Wednesday, Tripoli was awakened by coalition raids at 5:15 AM. The strikes resumed between 8:00 PM and 10:30 PM, targeting the camps where the radars and jamming equipment are located.
The Ministry of Health urged Libyans not to come near the bombed areas, saying that there were suspicions about the use of internationally banned chemical and nuclear materials. Some Libyans fear that Kadhafi’s battalions may use the prohibited weapons and claim that they were used by the coalition forces.
Meanwhile, Kadhafi’s first public appearance since the start of the UN-backed operation in Libya prompted extreme reactions among Libyans. Some questioned the Libyan leader’s mental condition, all the while voicing support for the UN-mandated military campaign.
“It’s clear that he’s afraid and that his days will end,” Nahla Bachir. “I don’t think he is staying in Bab Aziziyah. I think he came from another protected place. He’s known to be afraid for his safety.”
In his March 22nd speech, Kadhafi vowed resistance and said “there are demonstrations all over the world supporting the Libyan people against this unjustified aggression”.
Journalist Abdulmounaim Youssef refuted his words, saying that through his follow-up of the news, he didn’t see any marches in support of the Libyan leader.
“I think he’s living in his wild imagination, and he won’t see the reality until he is arrested,” he added.
Dr. Ali Abdullah said that Kadhafi “lives in an odd psychological state, something peculiar to him, something that the world may call the Kadhafi complex, like the Freudian complex, which hides the truth and claims fighting and resistance”.
According to political activist Ramadan, the international coalition must “remove Kadhafi’s battalions off the map of the Libyan society”.
“In his speech yesterday, I felt that he was looking for the destruction of Libya because he doesn’t have the option of stepping aside or down after he killed 8,000 Libyans,” he said.
“He’s a terrorist who poses danger to the world and humanity, and there must be a concerted effort to arrest him,” a female teacher, who preferred not to give her name, said.