Libya: 40 Years under the Erratic Leadership of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi

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  • Topic: Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi, United Nations
  • Pages : 11 (4316 words )
  • Download(s) : 53
  • Published : March 17, 2012
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Libya, an oil-rich nation in North Africa, spent more than 40 years under the erratic leadership of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi before a revolt pushed him from power in August 2011 after a six-month struggle. On Oct. 20, Colonel Qaddafi was killed as fighters battling the vestiges of his fallen regime finally wrested control of his hometown of Surt. The country was formally declared liberated three days later by the provisional government, the Transitional National Council, setting in motion the process of creating a new constitution and an elected government. Members voted to name as prime minister Abdel Rahim el-Keeb, an electronics engineer and Qaddafi critic, who spent most of his career abroad. But in the months that followed Libya began to founder, torn by the militias who helped the revolution triumph. There remains optimism in Tripoli, not least because the country sits atop so much oil. But the government has found itself virtually paralyzed by rivalries that have forced it to divvy up power along lines of regions and personalities, by unfulfillable expectations that Colonel Qaddafi’s fall would bring prosperity, and by a powerlessness so marked that the national army is treated as if it were another militia. The issue of legitimacy remains the most pressing matter in revolutionary Libya. Officials hope that elections in May or June can do what they did in Egypt and Tunisia: convey authority to an elected body that can claim the mantle of popular will. But Iraq remains a counterpoint. There, elections after the American invasion widened divisions so dangerously that they helped unleash a civil war. A sense of entropy lingers. Some state employees have gone without salaries for a year, and Mr. Shamis acknowledged that the government had no idea how to channel enough money into the economy so that it would be felt in the streets. Tripoli residents complain about a lack of transparency in government decisions. Ministries still seem paralyzed by the tendency, instilled during the dictatorship, to defer every decision to the top. In the streets, the militias are proving to be the scourge of the revolution’s aftermath. A Human Rights Watch researcher estimated there are 250 separate militias in the coastal city of Misurata, the scene of perhaps the fiercest battle of the revolution. From being heroes, those militias have become the most loathed in the country. In the East, Demands for Autonomy

In a symbolic gesture of defiance, militia and tribal chiefs from eastern Libya gathered in Benghazi in March 2012 to demand a return to the loose federation that prevailed before Colonel Qaddafi took power in 1969. Challenging the country’s transitional leaders in the nation’s capital, Tripoli, the 3,000 people assembled in an old soap factory near Benghazi also announced unilateral plans to begin establishing their own autonomous government.

The eastern region is crucial to Libya’s future because it contains much of the country’s oil, and the demands cast new doubts on the feasibility and credibility of the transitional leaders’ plans for elections in June to choose a national constituent assembly that would form a new government and draft a constitution. Participants in the conference said their eastern state, known as Barqa, would have its own legislature, budget, police and courts, with Benghazi as its capital. But they said the federal government would continue to control foreign policy, the national army and the oil. The so-called Transitional National Council, which came together without elections early in the uprising, had recently announced plans that called for 111 members of the assembly to come from the populous western region around Tripoli and about 60 seats from the east of the country — a formula that helped provoke the eastern region’s declaration of autonomy. In February, a group of militias from western Libya formed their own alliance, ostensibly to stabilize their region but also to exert influence nationally....
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