Libyans on the ground wait anxiously for end of conflict
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Stacey Vanek-Smith: Yesterday it seemed victory was at hand for Libyan rebels. Today, the situation looks a lot dicier. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has reportedly spoken with a Russian official today
and says he has no plans to leave Tripoli.
The BBC’s Rana Jawad joins me now from Tripoli to tell us what she’s seeing on the ground. Good morning, Rona!
Rana Jawad: Good morning.
Vanek-Smith: I hear — is that the call to prayer in the background that I’m hearing.
Jawad: No, actually, it’s not. What you’re hearing is the Imam at the mosque chanting out what translates to “God is great, God is great.” That has been continuous for the past three hours now, almost. These are the very same chants that encouraged people just over 48 hours ago to take to the streets again here in Tripoli as they waited for rebel fighters from different parts of the country to advance into the capital.
Vanek-Smith: Rana, what is it like on the streets of Tripoli right now? What is the mood like? What are you seeing?
Jawad: Well, it depends what part of Tripoli you’re in. I’m in the eastern part of the capital. This was one of the first areas that came under opposition control. People are just holding their breath, waiting to see where the battle in Tripoli — or when it’s going to end, not if. However, for much of the country and much of the city, at least, and its population, they are holding their breaths to see what the coming hours or days will bring.
Vanek-Smith: Are businesses open right now?
Jawad: No, they’re not. Since — again, for the past 48 hours, everything is completely shut down. You might find the odd baker open for business — they’re not even selling the bread that they’re baking, they’re giving them out to residents. And I did hear one large supermarket not far away from where we are had been giving out all sorts of consumer goods for free to some of the opposition fighters based in their area.
Vanek-Smith: We had heard that Internet has been sort of sporadically up and down. Do you have service there right now?
Jawad: At the moment, no. The Internet was switched off six months ago, since the uprising began here. The Internet is controlled by the government here. So everywhere else here in the city, felt like they’ve gone back to the stone age. However in the last 48 hours, as the rebels moved into the capital, we had heard that the Internet service provider headquarters here had been taken over by residents of the capital. And, soon after, the Internet was switched on. However, communications are still difficult. It’s mostly due to fuel shortage and electricity outage throughout most of the day and in the past month.
Vanek-Smith: The BBC’s Rana Jawad in Tripoli. Thank you, Rana.
Jawad: You’re welcome.
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