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Building a revolution from scratch

Building a revolution from scratch

Angus MacSwan looks at how Libya builds its rebel structure, involving both the youth and professionals across the sector, with exiles returning to help the cause.

March 24, 2011 5:00 by

Mustafa Gheriani was a construction contractor shuttling between the United States and Libya when the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi broke out.

Iman Bughaeis was teaching dentistry at Benghazi’s University.

Now they are part of the Libyan rebel movement’s administration, trying to bring some order to what at first sight seems a like a state of near anarchy in their headquarters in a dilapidated courthouse on Benghazi’s seafront.

The uprising erupted spontaneously and the opposition is having to build its structure from scratch — no easy task in a country where authority and organisation had been kept in the grip of Gaddafi loyalists for four decades.

“We are learning as we go. Our political experience is one month and one week,” said Bughaeis, who teaches orthodontics and earned her degree at Newcastle University in Britain.

She stepped forward to help as the Feb. 17 opposition began to coalesce.

“We didn’t have anything. To start work in this environment was very hard.”

She is now helping the opposition cope with the international media, an important role as foreign governments weigh up their relationship with the rebels.

Gheriani has emerged as one of the main spokesmen. He said he was in Benghazi when the first protests broke out and he joined them.

“We thought it would just last a day or two then Gaddafi would put it down. But in a few days the east was liberated. People just started to show up at the courthouse.”

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