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Anti-Gaddafi demonstration set for Saturday in Valletta

Anti-Gaddafi protesters demonstrated for the third day in a row yesterday, calling on the Maltese to join them in solidarity. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Anti-Gaddafi protesters demonstrated for the third day in a row yesterday, calling on the Maltese to join them in solidarity. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Anti-Gaddafi protesters are planning a large demonstration in Valletta on Saturday and hoping the Maltese people will join them in solidarity.

They planned the event during a third day of protests outside the Libyan Embassy in Balzan where, in the morning, two more staff members were seen packing their bags and leaving amid jubilant applause. Three others had resigned and joined in the protests on Monday. The two who left yesterday were said to have made plans to join their families in Libya.

Although Muammar Gaddafi’s televised speech on Tuesday did not dampen the protesters’ spirits, the demonstration yesterday was smaller and less boisterous than the previous two.

Members of the police Special Assignment Group were stationed outside the embassy. Police dogs were also brought in. But if they expected the worse, they were wrong. There had been talk of a possible counter protest by pro-Gaddafi Libyans following the defiant call to arms by the troubled Libyan leader. But none showed up.

Protesters spent most of their time speaking to journalists about their demands, such as for the Maltese authorities to allow the Libyan military pilots who defected to Malta on Monday to speak out.

Despite numerous requests, efforts to contact the pilots have proven futile.

Since protesters were told Ambassador Saadun Suayeh was not at the embassy, instead of calling for his resignation they stepped up demands for the flag to be replaced with their pre-1969 national colours.

The protesters dedicated the day to calling for the Maltese people, human rights organisations and politicians to express solidarity and condemn the violent acts of Col Gaddafi’s regime.

“We do not want foreign intervention but we want to know the world cares.”

One young PhD holder said the Maltese should stop being afraid of Col Gaddafi and not to fear an influx of illegal immigration if he fell. “If Libya becomes democratic, like Egypt and Tunisia, we can turn North Africa into a very prosperous region. We have so many resources, everyone will be happy. I think if Gaddafi falls, we can have immigration into Libya not out of it. Why would people continue leaving Libya to go to Europe where there is financial turmoil when they can stay and rebuild a developing country full of opportunities?”

Another protester, a 26-year-old Libyan student in Malta, Mohamed Il Hadi, said he was penniless because his family back home could not transfer any money to him since the banks were not operating and internet communication was unreliable.

Adel Fituris, who returned from Libya yesterday together with his family, gave a first-hand account of the dangers in Tripoli. He confirmed the presence of foreign mercenaries and the constant gunfire.

Another protester brought a laptop to show the most recent graphic footage and images from the Tripoli “warzone”.

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