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» »Unlabelled » "Under Gaddafi everything was great. And now there's nothing"

Every revolution has its losers. Libya's new rulers, who swept to power three months ago in a revolt against Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule, have promised the country a brighter future. In the biggest cities, celebratory gunfire and the war-cry "God is great" can still be heard daily.

In Bani Walid, long a stronghold for Gaddafi loyalists and one of their last bastions to fall during this year's civil war, the mood is entirely different.

On a quiet Friday morning -- the day of rest in this almost entirely Muslim country -- a middle-aged man drew the metal shutters of his shop closed to speak freely about how Libya's new leaders have brought this town nothing but empty promises.

"Under Gaddafi everything was great. And now there's nothing," he says, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by forces loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC), which led the revolt against Gaddafi.

"They will find me," he says, adding angrily: "Anyone who tells the truth in Libya gets slaughtered."

Bani Walid, which sits on a rocky perch above a lush valley dotted with olive trees, is a town divided.

"Before the liberation, half the people were Gaddafi loyalists, half were with the revolution," said Tariq Faqi, a 28-year-old doctor who works at the town's hospital, after Friday prayers at the Abdel Nabbi bil Kheir Mosque.

"Now they accept reality and they're waiting to see what happens ... People feel they can't trust the new government until they see improvement."


After the fall of Tripoli three months ago, Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam hid among the town's 100,000 or so inhabitants. He says Western warplanes fired on his convoy as he fled, and their missiles blew off part of his thumb and index finger.

Bani Walid is also home to the Warfalla tribe, the biggest in this vast, oil-rich country of roughly six million people, and one upon which Gaddafi often relied to stay in power.

Here as all over Libya, security remains one of the top concerns. A militia from Tripoli, a good two hours' drive away, conducted a raid in Bani Walid this week, sparking a firefight in which several people were killed on each side.

Talks between tribal elders have eased tensions, and most people interviewed felt life had since returned to normal, but residents disagreed over how much faith to place in a central government they said had yet to deliver concrete results. Read More

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