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A lesson from Libyan nightmare

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

A lesson from Libyan nightmare

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THE NIGHTMARE in Libya is over and hopefully, with the death of Muammar Gaddafi, the violence and bloodshed has ended as well. The more arduous battle will now begin and Libyans will have to decide their future.
It must be remembered that Libya is a country with no constitution, no government institutions and no parliament. With the fighting, its infrastructure has been destroyed and what Libya lacks is no less daunting than what it possesses.
There are now thousands of armed young men, dozens of traditionally warring factions who, following their unification in the face of a common enemy, are now poised to revert to pursuing generations’ old tribal grudges.
A country of feuding tribes must be transformed into a cohesive entity that is a homeland for all its citizens, devoid of hatred, repression and corruption – otherwise critics will argue that nothing has changed.
Considerable efforts must therefore be made to ensure this victory is of long-term benefit to all Libyans, while Arab countries must also play a constructive role in its rebirth. Western countries that were quick to provide military support must now work to prove their intervention was not motivated by Libya’s oil resources.
While the new rulers of Libya, whoever they turn out to be, owe a debt of gratitude to NATO countries – their victory, after all, would have been impossible were it not for the help of the air strikes. We would agree this is where the servitude has to end. Free and fair elections must be organized swiftly, because after four decades of repression Libyans will be eager to express themselves. The National Transitional Council and future administrations will be held accountable in a manner never visited upon Gaddafi.
His demise also sends a clear message to dictators and repressive regimes, which have acted as if they are untouchable. Many of these political systems have been resistant to change and the legitimate demands of their citizens.
The world around them is changing, as new technological advances in communications empower the general public as never before. It is now very difficult, if not impossible, to keep people isolated from each other or the rest of the world. People now have the last word – and the last laugh.
It is up to Libya to recast itself as a country that lives up to the democratic expectations of its people. The task is enormous. In the uneasy calm that follows war, we can only hope new leaders deliver a country that has been worth fighting for.
Dictators should realize they have to accept change, which is inevitable. They can either resist, through violence and oppression, or oversee a process of reform and democracy to spare their countries the nightmare that Libyans now, gratefully, hope is at an end.
There is a lesson here for embattled leaders of Syria and Yemen as to how the mighty fall when they go over the brink.