Ikram Bash Imam, the country’s tourism minister, said on Saturday that the government has embarked on “preliminary works” in the development of the park in the infamous complex of Bab al-Azizya, or Spledid Gate, in the southern suburbs of the capital.
“[Before Gaddafi’s rule] most of the area was already a park and it had been divided and a lot of trees had been removed as well,” Imam said.”We are now trying to return this area to what it was before, especially because it’s in the middle of Tripoli city, so it will be a green area to be enjoyed by the people of Tripoli and guests,” she said.
The 6-square-kilometre base was originally built by King Idris, Libya’s ruler before Gaddafi, and boasted trappings of wealth well beyond the means of ordinary Libyans. In the 1980s, Gaddafi reinforced and expanded the compound with the help of foreign contractors by installing an extensive network of underground tunnels that stretched into several districts of Tripoli. The sprawling complex, which was a defining symbol of Gaddafi’s 40-year rule, was heavily damaged by NATO air strikes, and destroyed buildings and other debris from the fighting now occupy large areas of it.