* Libya's new rulers jockey for power
* Tripoli savours return of water, shopping, schools
* Libyans fear blunt talk could stir rivalries
(Repeats story filed earlier with no changes to text)
By William Maclean
TRIPOLI, Sept 13 Less than a month after Muammar
Gaddafi's fall, Tripoli is bustling. Shoppers throng markets.
Banks are open. Electricity and water are back, most of the
time. Out in the desert, some oil flows.
With parts of the giant OPEC member country still at war,
the rapid spread of a semblance of normality is startling.
"We actually thought it was going to be far worse than this
in our planning for Tripoli," said a security official, who
asked not to be identified as he was not authorised to talk to
But for Tripoli, home to a third of Libya's 6 million
population, it's a distinctly new kind of normal.
The welcome return to everyday routines after six months of
turmoil has been accompanied by emerging signs of a country
starkly unfamiliar to Libyans brought up under 42 years of
And that's not just because of the arms and ammunition left
lying around the city by fleeing Gaddafi troops, or the bursts
of celebratory gunfire from revolutionary fighters who still
control part of the city.
One of the most telling novelties since the fall of Tripoli
is free speech, and with it an early, and for some
uncomfortable, dose of public political bickering.
JOCKEYING FOR POWER
Some figures within the anti-Gaddafi camp are airing their
differences in public as they jockey for power ahead of the
nomination of a new interim government, a move expected about a
week from now.
For Libyans, forbidden by Gaddafi to form political parties
or hold elections, a bit of political openness is welcome --
more the birth pangs of the world's newest democracy than a
harbinger of a fight over the revolution's spoils.
For much of the past six months, after all, Libyans have
argued at length on Arab satellite channels and on social
networking sites about what kind of country they would like to
But now that Tripoli is in the hands of Gaddafi's opponents,
some of its citizens see a need to protect the revolution from
talk that could stir up powerful rivalries.
The coalition of forces that came together in the National
Transitional Council (NTC) alliance to topple Gaddafi can ill
afford open divisions when much of the city remains heavily
armed, tribal and regional rivalries are accentuated and
emotions run high after the death of tens of thousands.
Withdrawing cash at an automated teller machine in a central
Tripoli square, former airline pilot Mohammed Saadi said he was
relieved to see NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil arrive in Tripoli
on Saturday, his first visit to the city since Gaddafi's defeat.
Some Libyans had said that as a man whose home region is
Libya's east, Jalil would have to work hard to establish his
political credibility with the residents of Tripoli in the west.
But Tripolitanians were eager to send a message of national
"Gaddafi wanted to split the country into eight pieces. So
Jalil's arrival helps to keep things together," Saadi said.
"Yes, we can speak freely now -- in the past if you said one
word wrong you could disappear -- but we need a lot of help to
build a new country and, frankly, to build a new people."
"We need a lot of education to understand how to handle this
period, to be honest and cooperative."
Drama professor Ibrahim Mohammed said Tripoli was "50
percent back to normal".
"People are going to the banks to get their salaries, people
are going to hospital for treatment. Fuel is available.
"And for Jalil - yes he's from the east, but first and he is
from Libya. That's the most important thing."
NEED FOR TOLERANCE
The need for tolerance and unity was the theme of a speech
by Jalil that received a rapturous reception at a rally in a
central square on Monday evening.
But within an hour of him speaking, an influential
anti-Gaddafi scholar, Ali al-Salabi, gave an interview on an
Arab satellite television channel suggesting the NTC was not
strong enough to rule effectively.
On Tuesday, Salabi, a critic of Jalil's number two, Mahmoud
Jabril, the effective prime minister, explained to Reuters that
he opposed the participation in the leadership of prominent
figures who had been in long exile and had not been "among the
masses when the revolution erupted and the people were
"We want a strong national government where all factions
participate and are involved, and where no party is an outcast.
We want a strong prime minister," he said, an implicit barb
directed at Jabril, who spent years in academia overseas.
He said some of Jalil's aides were acting unjustly towards
Islamic factions by accusing them of radicalism.
"Libya will reject any radicalism whether it is religious,
sectarian, partisan or secular," he said.
One of Salabi's allies, Tripoli military commander Abdel
Hakim Belhadj, did not appear on stage with Jalil at the speech
on Monday evening, analysts noted, a notable absence for such a
senior revolutionary official.
Asked about Salabi's comments, NTC official Osama Abu Ras
shrugged and said: "Anyone is free to criticise."
Three Libyan political analysts contacted by Reuters said
they felt Salabi's comments were hasty and did not serve the
cause of tolerance.
"It's too early for this kind of thing. Criticism should be
challenged through a political process. The people he is
criticising are trying to create that process. Once it's
created, then the public politicking can start," said one.
"You're seeing the effect of 40 years of dictatorship," said
(Additional reporting by Hisham el-Dani and Alexander Dziadosz;
Editing by Andrew Heavens)