Tripoli, 24 October:
Tuesday’s first anniversary of the declaration of liberation from the Qaddafi regime on 23 October last year drew markedly different reactions from Libya’s friends, local organisations and the general public.
From foreign government there was support, qualified by concerns about security. However, organisations in Libya were generally more critical while the general public were largely uninterested, despite it being a public holiday.
In similar vein to the British government’s positive support, the French government congratulated Libya for its democratic development in the 12 months since liberation.
However, many challenges remain, said a statement yesterday from the French foreign ministry.
“We very much want to see security, essential to the development of democracy, rapidly achieved”, Paris said, urging Libyans to work for national reconciliation. It hoped that a government would soon be formed to address the issue.
However, as the first foreign country to support the Libyan revolution, it said it remained committed to Libya and would work to help it build a state of law.
Rather differently, the NGO Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) saw the anniversary as an occasion to take the authorities to task.
“Over the past year, many promises for Libya’s transition to democracy, respect for the rule of law and protection and promotion of human rights have been made by Libya’s interim authorities”, said an FLJL statement. “As the country celebrates its liberation after four decades of Gaddafi rule, LFJL calls on the Libyan government to deliver on these promises.”
Libyans had heard “a lot of rhetoric about democratic promotion, respect for human rights and the pursuit of justice from Libya officials,” LFJL Director Elham Saudi said. “It is time this rhetoric is turned into reality.”
Some developments, notably the elections for the General National Congress, had “inspired hope” for the country’s future, a statement said. But the use of “disproportionate violence in Bani Walid, the continued discrimination and violence waged against the people of Tawergha, the indiscriminate attacks on religious shrines, the continued arbitrary detention of hundreds of people without recourse to justice and the reported torture of detainees mark a growing stain on Libya’s transition”.
The authorities had to start taking justice seriously. “The lack of interest in bringing perpetrators of human rights violations to account has made periodic statements about pursuing justice ring hollow”, the statement said. “Without concerted efforts to achieve accountability, build respect for the rule of law and promote human rights, the government risks building Libya’s transition on a false foundation.”
From the public there was far more interest in last minute pre-Eid shopping and concern at the higher costs than last year. The latter appears to have consolidated a distinct lack of enthusiasm toward the anniversary and the country’s political leaders generally.