Tripoli/Manama/Muscat: Anti-government protesters in Libya gained control of four cities
and formed a council to begin the transition of power from Muammar
Gaddafi's 41-year-old regime as Canada too slapped sanctions on
the oil-rich country. The pro-democracy movement caught Oman in
its vortex while in Bahrain the protests escalated.
According to the BBC, unrest continues in and around Tripoli where
a demonstration against Gaddafi in the capital's suburb of Tajoura
saw protesters chanting, "The blood of martyrs won't go to waste."
Anti-government forces now control the town of Zawiya, 50 km from
Tripoli, but pro-Gaddafi forces are still surrounding the city.
As dawn broke over Libya, where an estimated 1,000 people have
been killed in two weeks, tension simmered.
The areas reported to be under control of anti-government forces
include Az-Zawiya, Misurata, Benghazi and Al Baida, Al Jazeera
Al-Zawiya town, which was taken over Sunday by protesters, saw
security forces loyal to Gaddafi entering the Air Force Academy
and asking students to attack the city with them, a witness told
Al Arabiya television Monday. The city houses the country's
largest oil refinery.
According to DPA, pro-democracy protesters also shot down a
helicopter and captured its crew in Libya's third largest city
Misurata, an opposition group said Monday.
The opposition in the country's second largest city Benghazi have
begun preparing for a transition of power and formed new political
institutions in the "liberated" cities.
However, the western part of Libya, including Tripoli and Surt, an
important centre for oil production, are currently under the
control of Gaddafi's supporters.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US was reaching out
to Libya's opposition, talking to "the many different Libyans who
are attempting to organise in the east and as the revolution moves
westward there as well".
BBC cited UN officials as saying that tens of thousands of
migrants were stranded near Libya's Tunisian border with a
thousand new arrivals every hour.
The UN estimates that about 100,000 people have fled
anti-government unrest in Libya over the past week.
"We are committed to assisting Tunisia and Egypt in helping each
and every person fleeing Libya," Antonio Guterres, the UN high
commissioner for refugees, said in a statement in Geneva Sunday.
With the situation worsening in Libya, Canada imposed sanctions on
the country in a swift Sunday night move after reports that
Gaddafi and his family were planning to withdraw millions of
dollars held in Canadian banks.
The anti-regime protests are sweeing through north Africa and the
The unrest in other countries, including Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria
and Iraq, were triggered after weeks of unrest in Tunisia toppled
the 23-year-rule of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali Jan 14. A similar
uprising began Jan 25 in neighbouring Egypt, leading to the fall
of president Hosni Mubarak Feb 11 after 30 years in power.
In Oman, pro-democracy protesters Monday blocked roads to a key
industrial area, braving rubber bullets and teargas used by
security forces, a day after clashes between demonstrators and
government troops killed six people.
Citing medical sources, AKI reported that six people were killed
in clashes with security forces during pro-democracy protests
Sunday against the regime of Sultan Qaboos bin Said who has been
in power for four decades.
Qaboos Sunday pledged to create 50,000 more jobs and pay
unemployment benefits to job seekers.
But on Monday, pro-democracy protesters blocked roads to the key
northern industrial area of Sohar, which houses a refinery port
and an aluminium factory, reports said.
There was sharp escalation in pro-democracy protests in Bahrain
against king Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Hamad has been in power since 2002 when the country was turned
into a constitutional monarchy, paving the way for an elected
parliament. But the king has been the supreme authority of Shia-dominated
Bahrain since 1971.
Protesters Monday blocked the entrances to the upper house of the
National Assembly, or Shura, forcing a temporary shutdown, DPA
Students from several high schools also joined the protests across
the Gulf island - either marching to parliament or demonstrating
inside their schools in support of the nationwide demands since
Feb 14 for political reforms.
The demonstrators surrounding the National Assembly building
called for the release of detainees and the prosecution of
ministers and officials involved in attacks on peaceful
protesters, in which seven died and hundreds were injured since
the unrest began.