First horse race sets off in Tripoli since the fall of Qaddafi

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The Libyan capital has witnessed its first horse race since the toppling of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in 2011, the 7M Sports website reported on Sunday.

The horse competition took place on Friday in the country’s oldest race course, the Abu Sittah track in Tripoli, which was built in 1930s.

The competition represents positive changes expected after the end of the late Qaddafi’s regime, which had marginalized horse races.

“Horse racing was oppressed but there are good changes now. We would like to congratulate this new regime for its great achievements,” Amer Ahmed Salem, a jockey of Aziz WaGhaly, who won the 200 meter race, told the sport news website.

Khayry Amer Ashour, a horse owner and trainer, told the website that post-Qaddafi situation is improving and that “radical changes” will happen but patience is required.

“Several groups and organizations have plans for change, but implementing them takes time,” he said, adding “there is public readiness for change and development. Many Libyan (horse) owners are participating in tournaments abroad and they are honoring this country by their success. All these are good steps for the improvement of the sport.”

In related news, Libya is planning to invest $314 million on building stadiums this year to host the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations to demonstrate its readiness for a new era,

“Just like Nelson Mandela unified South Africa, we hope to unify Libya under this cup,” Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Awad Ibrahim Elbarasi told Reuters.

Hosting the African Nations Cup finals would allow Libya to show that life has returned to normal in the country and encourage investors, Elbarasi said.

Libya’s security was threatened when rebels, who fought against the Qaddafi’s regime, didn’t accept to disarm after toppling the dictator.

Last week, U.N. special envoy to Libya, Tarek Mitri, said that weak state institutions and a lack of trust in security forces are hurting Libyan effort to maintain national security during a briefing to the U.N. Security Council on Libya’s post-war progress.

The country is “awash in unsecured weapons” that pose a serious risk to the region given Libya’s porous borders, he added.

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