Libya, one year later

A year after the start of the Libyan revolution much has been accomplished. Libya today stands free of Col Muammar Gaddafi, the once beloved but tyrannical ruler who was killed in the last days of the fighting between the rebel forces and the pro-Gaddafi forces.

Even as celebrations were held all over the country, a poignant reminder of how far Libya has come in terms of freedom, some critical questions remain. The most critical of these relates to the insecurity and instability that are still prevalent. The new interim government under Mustafa Abdul Jalil has been unable to control the armed militias that are reportedly roaming freely. Moreover, the country’s institutions are lacking in administrative powers and strength.

The devastation caused by the fighting seems to have not only destroyed physical infrastructure but has also rendered the state institutions in a state of paralysis. The National Transitional Council in charge of running the affairs of the state till elections has a tough task ahead. Their biggest challenge at present is to persuade the armed militias to lay down arms and join the national security forces. Apparently, those who have done so are critical of the government’s response to such overtures, complaining of neglect and not being recompensed. Others are not in favour of doing so, preferring to consolidate power through strength and arms, and thus obtaining maximum leverage. Abuse of detainees is now widespread with human rights groups noting large-scale abuse and torture of prisoners. This does paint a dark picture.

A post-Gaddafi Libya was not supposed to look this grim and reminiscent of the dark practices of an era hated by many. While revolutions hardly end quietly and it takes time for the dust to settle, Libya cannot afford this. Its revolution was backed by external military support — not to forget larger Arab support against Gaddafi’s brutal reprisals of civilians. Even now the regional states and the international community have promised to reconstruct Libya and help its nascent political setup grow independently. There is so much that outsiders can do. The responsibility lies with those now sitting in Tripoli to clear the air of instability and exercise strict control on lawless miscreants even if these were the revolutionaries who brought Gaddafi down. While Gaddafi has gone, instability remains amid growing fears of uncertainty of Libya’s future. Libya must not go that way after all the sacrifices that were made.

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