Huge Crowds As Libya's Liberation Is Declared

Libya's new rulers have declared the country's liberation after 42 years of being ruled by Muammar Gaddafi.

Hugh crowds gathered in Benghazi were told that the "Pharaoh of our times" had been consigned to "the garbage bin of history".

Tens of thousands crammed into the city's Kish Square to hear the interim National Transitional Council announce Libya's freedom.

NTC chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil kneeled in prayer after taking the podium and promised to uphold Islamic law.

"We as a Muslim nation have taken Islamic sharia as the source of legislation, therefore any law that contradicts the principles of Islam is legally nullified," he said.

He thanked the Arab League, United Nations and European Union for supporting the uprising which ended with Gaddafi 's death on Thursday.

"All the martyrs, the civilians and the army had waited for this moment. But now they are in the best of places, eternal heaven," he said, shaking hands with supporters.

"The revolution began as a peaceful one. But it was faced with violence," he added. "This revolution was looked after by God to achieve victory,"

Abdel Rahman al-Kabisi, minister of martyrs and the wounded, added: "We are the Libyans.

"We have shown you who we are Gaddafi, you Pharaoh of the times. You have fallen into the garbage bin of history.

The event had begun with the singing of the national anthem and waving of flags - both of which date back to before Gaddafi's coup in 1969.

An official then said: "We declare to the whole world that we have liberated our beloved country, with its cities, villages, hilltops, mountains, deserts and skies."

General Omar al-Hariri, head of the NTC's military council, paid tribute to those who had lost their lives in the months of fighting..

He vowed: "For more than 40 years we lived hostages to a tyrant who had a sick mind.

"I promise you that the national army will be rebuilt [and you] will no longer take orders from tyrants.

"Freedom is great. Its price is great ... so bite into it. Preserving it is more difficult than obtaining it."

The formal acknowledgement of the end of the war signals the start of the transition to democracy.

The NTC has vowed to hold elections next June.

Benghazi was chosen for the announcement because the people there led February's uprising against Colonel Gaddafi's rule.

The location has angered some in the capital Tripoli and in Misratah, where tensions have highlighted the challenge the new government faces to unite the country.

The NTC is still waiting to establish an effective base in Tripoli, several months after the city was freed from Gaddafi's control.

Meanwhile, a post-mortem carried out on the dictator's body has confirmed he died from a shot to the head.

Video footage has also emerged of a man who is said to have pulled the trigger , apparently contradicting claims he was killed in crossfire after his capture.

Foreign Secretary William Hague described the liberation as a "historic victory" and urged the country to avoid "retribution and reprisals".

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said an investigation into how Gaddafi was killed should be part of Libya's transition to living under the rule of law.

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