The catharsis experienced in drama of Libya after several months of engagement by the National Transitional Council (aided by the UN backed NATO, which was earlier described by the chief antagonist as ‘’gangs of armed bandits sponsored by Al-Qaeda’’) and the pro Gaddafi forces, is best felt through the despairing minds of Libyans and foreigners alike, who were caught in the near-seven months crossfire between the two forces. Libya once noted for its absolute submissiveness, inspiring economy; at least better for a developing nation, became the third victim of haze of fury of the proletariat that swept audaciously through the Al-Maghreb. Beginning from Tunisia, where an unemployed street hawking graduate, exhausted from the stifling pangs of government’s callousness, detonated pent-up emotion that would later consumed not less than three sit-tight absolute dictators and thousands of innocent (but equally tired of the system) casualties. Tripoli was quick to dismiss the uprising in Tunisia that eventually spread into Egypt in the wee months of this year with the wave of hands. With headstrong Gaddafi calling it a grumbling by pockets of brain-washed left wing extremist and armed bandits sponsored by the dreaded Islamic sect, Al-Qaeda. In his characteristic reaction, he warned that the riot should be restricted only to the volatile zones from where it started with a pellucid signal to miscreants in his territory who might want to emulate the restive youths of Tunisia and Egypt. His God-given territory! Even right there while he was speaking, pockets of discontented Libyan youths have gathered in Benghazi, west of Tripoli, initiating their own moves, though uninspiring then, to unsettled if not to unseat Africa’s longest serving dictator. Much more than the figment of jubilant and enthused Libyans that welcomed the so called much awaited liberation of the Libya. The task ahead is arduous and the prospect of stability soon looks enormous.
To surmount this, one must understands that the nucleus of every revolution is the desperate desideratum to break loose from the chains of suppression and oppression of being held for so long against ones will, either through tact or absolute brutal force. Once the train of the people is on the move, no mortal force can stop it, until halted by the same people who initiated its move. In essence, NTC remains the only weapon to destroy its own revolution, either through its own indiscretion within, or through the surreptitious manipulation from the power bloc without. Understanding the real foundation of the people’s rebellion against a man whom many regard outside Libya as a potent voice of Africa unity, a stinging tail to the western world and an economic developer and resource manager; a quintessential worthy of emulation, will help the NTC understand the means of steering the ship of a budding revolution to maturity. These tasks before the National Transitional Council is multifarious and demand absolute discretion to surmount; and at such one is not spurred to envying their new found freedom. The people’s rebellion towards the man, whom they regard as the true father of Libyans, was not from his inability to build an economy that will serve the moderate population of Libya, as well as its future needs. In fact, he built an economic empire that the like of Nigeria, which prides itself as the giant of Africa, is trying to play catch. So naturally, this could not be their grouse against him. He excelled in that! Then they were not discontented with their image in the eyes of the international world, because they could have been since 1988. Remember Lockerbie and the French Pan AM Airliner blown up in central Africa? This could have served as the basis of the rebellion against a leader that wields such absolute power. They could simply have rebelled against him for portraying them as a terrorist state in the eyes of the international world (well, an international world not totally absolved of full scale terrorism itself) but they did not, because he lifted the arms of restrain by agreeing to compensate the families of the victims of both his misadventures in world power tussle. He also consented to ending his nuclear power programme. All these did him and all Libyans well in the eyes of the international community. That too couldn’t be! Remember he took Libya back to the comity of nations with his full support for anti-terrorism by divulging and giving up hundreds of terrorists holed up within his domain. This totally changed the way all peace loving nations viewed Libya, and in a jiffy, Libyans were very proud of their role in war against global terrorism and their renewed image on the international scene. It was not superficial at all, neither was it cosmetic! All these were not the real basis of the rebellion against the man who described himself as the king of kings. There was much more to it than economy and foreign image. It was a pain seated in the hearts of the people for far too long. The bursting vigour to experience true democracy, rule of law, unrestricted freedom of speech, the ability to determine who rule over them based only on a merit system which they themselves are the real facilitators and participants, and the simple thirst of having a complete control on how they are been governed.
Consequentially, the immediate task before Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the Libya’s interim leader and his NTC is to keep faith with the trust the Libyan people have reposed in them, by (within the two years promised) conducting free and fair elections into public democratic offices, both established and soon to be established, based only on the new constitution, which they will have the privilege and time of drafting and perfecting during the two years transitional period. The government must be all inclusive, as any marginalization based on the perceived level of involvement in the revolution will spell doom for this fledgling democracy. This is likely to happen given the indiscretion exhibited by the NTC by staging the inauguration of the interim government in Benghazi, the site where the revolution begun, instead of Tripoli the nation’s capital, giving the world the impression that much polarity may be given allowance in the newly constituted interim government. This polarity, no doubt will bring dubiety over the lip-resolves of the NTC to bridge the fractionalized gap between the anti-Gaddafi and pro-Gaddafi groups. Such colourful event should have been held in Tripoli, thereby sending signals of the NTC’s commitment to having an all encompassing government eschewing bitterness, embracing reconciliation and focused on moving the nation on against all odds. The untenable excuse of insecurity given by the NTC for staging it in Benghazi as opposed to Tripoli, even with the presence of the heavily militarized NATO, through which victory was achieved, in the first place is not plausible. In the true spirit of reconciliation, no stones should be left unturned to incorporate pro Gaddafi soldiers and most especially the people of his home state, Sirte and in particular, Bani Whalid , his last stronghold. Such display of eternal loyalty to Gaddafi from these people is premonitive of a deep seated vengeance, which embers could be fanned if by the way of circumstantial myopism, the NTC, advertently ostracize these loyalists or manipulatively marginalized them in the newly set up government. Such sense of detachment from governance, which they had once enjoyed, that would be felt by these people could metamorphose into the real albatross of the present government. One could say therefore, without the special gift of star gazing, that the next counter revolution will in all reality begin from there.
The diminuendo of the ousting and death of Muammar Gaddafi came with the bombshell dropped by Mustafa Abdel Jalil in his inaugural speech, where he claimed Libya for sharia law, a law which had been jettisoned by the erstwhile government, and the immediate lift of ban on polygamy, as if that was the mot
ive for staging this rebellion in the first place. No doubt it shocked the western world, whose unholy romance with the rebels claimed the scalp of Gaddafi and his government in the first place. Being a liberalist and an advocate of religion practiced in the best way it suits its adherents, I have no objection whatsoever, to the declaration of Sharia law as the guiding principle of the Libyan people, only if that is the yearnings of thousands of Libyan youths who staked their lives to achieve this seemingly utopian freedom. I am afraid what I saw in those youths where the revolution began and ended goes beyond asking for an extreme and pariah law. From the different insignias and signs in scripted on the t-shirts worn and banners carried by these youths, it is pellucid more than ever that these youths advocate for a moderate practice of religion rejuvenated with democratic ingredients as obtained in other progressive Arab nations. The application of this law in the moderate sense will consolidates and strengthens the new dispensation, while its extreme application will be regarded as a diktat, that will spell nothing short of doom for the NTC.
Liberty of speech and press freedom must be given a priority as this became the greatest undoing of Gaddafi and his 42-year reign. The people, mostly the youths, felt repressed, gagged and unable to express themselves in comparison to other liberal youths of the world. Any attempt to further this repression in this new regime would be a curare drank by the Alchemist himself. Given the state of modern internet conversancy, social networking skills coupled with oversaturated web tools for mass mobilization at the disposal of these youths, I doubt if such a repressive regime will last its foundational years.
In all, a truth and reconciliation panel must be set up. This panel must be transparent enough to probe with precision, the different indictment of human rights abuse brought against the rebels by other nationals residing in Libya during the siege and the final day episode of massacre of more than 50 prisoners of war who were of pro Gaddafi faction at the hotel besieged and secured by the NTC soldiers. This stigma might put the new government in the eyes of the human rights watch and therefore, belittling their commitment to the ideals of human rights and dignity, which in the first place they claimed to be fighting to entrench.
Gradually, as the pubescent arms of revolutionary clock ticks by in Libya, Mustafa Abdel Jalil and his new government of National Transitional Council must adjust to the weight of expectations of the Libyan people, placed on their shoulder not by accident but by circumstantial delectation which they jointly negotiated for. He must stare through the eyes of an eagle and reject unholy overtures from the west and its allies, whose only preoccupation in getting involved in the revolution that ousted their long engaging enemy is the earth dripping juice which Libya is blessed with. His failure will translate into the failure of the new democracy his committee was mandated to establish. Every revolution destroys itself when the principle on which it is founded is allowed to be hijacked by the interests of a few people within the mass of revolutionaries that brought the revolution about. The interests of these few lots in the NTC will, without the gift of prescience on my own part, tick the time and detonate explosive on which NTC was initially condemned to be consumed.