Libya’s fate hangs in balance
Wedged between two countries where decades-long regimes toppled under relentless demonstrations, protesters in Libya hope to accomplish what Egypt and Tunisia has and oust their ruler of 42 years. But the country’s fate hanged precariously today after the son of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi warned of a chaotic civil war if citizens side with anti-government demonstrators.
The unrest – spurred in part by demands for freedom and angst over high unemployment – has left at least 233 people dead in Libya, according to Human Rights Watch, citing information from hospital sources.
CNN is not able to independently confirm the figure, as the network has not been granted access to report on the ground. But CNN has been in communication with medics and eyewitnesses in Libya, whose accounts corroborate closely with information from Human Rights Watch.
Early today, sporadic gunfire continued to ring out in parts of the North African nation, albeit a far cry from the tumult seen Sunday when the unrest came to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s doorstep in the capital Tripoli for the first time.
This morning, about 500 rioters stormed a South Korean-operated construction site near Tripoli, wounding 17 workers and causing a stand-off with police, the South Korean foreign ministry said.
A few hour earlier, Gadhafi’s second-oldest son proposed the speedy implementation of significant democratic reforms in the traditionally restrictive country while warning of a civil war, return to colonialism and mass poverty if opposition protests continue.
“We can speak rationally, we can spare the blood, we can stand all together for the sake of Libya,” Saif al-Islam Gadhafi said on Libyan state television. But if the unrest continues, “forget about democracy, forget about reform … It will be a fierce civil war.”
The younger Gadhafi criticized international media for overstating the extent of the violence but acknowledged “mistakes” by police and military in addressing the unrest. Still, he principally blamed drunks, criminals and foreigners for fanning dissent and instigating attacks that threatened to tear apart Libya.
It was not certain why Saif Gadhafi spoke instead of his father. (CNN)