Socialist Worker

New forms of democracy spring up in Benghazi

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2241

Benghazi, Libya’s second city and birthplace of the revolution, has made official the revolutionary council that emerged during the uprising.

This council is composed of the leaders of the uprising, trusted notables and judges, representatives of the rebellious tribes and rebel army units.

The council has put all the functions of the state under popular control—including prisons, armed forces, the police and courts.

It is organising the distribution of food according to need and has taken charge for the welfare of the thousands of migrant workers abandoned by firms.

It runs a TV station, radio station and has issued its first revolutionary newspaper.

Workers’ committees are running key installations such as electricity stations, the port and airport.

It has launched a national revolutionary body, the National Council, which is bringing together the popular councils emerging in towns and cities across the country.

But these councils face an immediate danger from defectors from the old regime.

The former justice minister, Mustafa Mohamed Abdel Jalil, has appeared in Benghazi to declare a “provisional government” under his control.

He has rallied behind him Libyan diplomats and others who are seeking to cut a deal with the US, Europe and global corporations over oil contracts, and other concessions, agreed by the former regime.

Jalil’s declaration prompted the fury of the revolutionary councils, who immediately announced that his government had no legitimacy.

The revolutionary council stated that it rejected all foreign military intervention, beyond measures to freeze regime assets and halt “mercenary flights” that are reinforcing Gaddafi’s army.

These councils offer the possibility of deepening the revolution by drawing the whole country under popular control.

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