Libya under Gaddafi

LIBYA was not the only one to be surprised by the US State Department’s announcement this week that the Arab country remains on its list of states ‘sponsoring terror.’ It proved equally shocking to the rest of the world considering Washington and Tripoli have lately made much progress in restoring their ties after Libya came in from the cold in December 2003.

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Published: Mon 27 Mar 2006, 9:05 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 5:17 PM

Whatever the Libyan regime’s motivation in scrapping its antiquated nuclear programme, it certainly helped it in reaching out to the West, especially US. Several Western leaders —from Tony Blair to Jacques Chirac to Silvio Berlusconi — and US lawmakers have since undertaken trips to Libya. President Moammar Gaddafi lost no time in reciprocating by visiting Europe.

This is why the State Department’s move to keep the North African nation on its list is intriguing. But looked closely, it makes sense. Although Gaddafi’s Libya has made dramatic progress on improving its ties with the West, which led to several Western companies landing billions of dollars of contracts in oil exploration and refineries, it has yet to improve the situation at home. As in other so-called Arab republics, Gaddafi’s Libya remains a single-party state with little or no freedom for other parties.

The entire opposition —both Islamists and secular groups —remains outside the country either in the West or neighbouring states. Goes without saying that in the absence of democracy, there are no democratic institutions and no free Press in the country. Human rights are routinely abused by the state. Without addressing concerns on these fronts, Libya can never hope to normalise its relations with the rest of the world.

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