by Umar Khan
There are many challenges facing Libya’s interim government. These include, but are not limited to, the disarmament of the . . .[restrict]population and militias, free and fair elections, treatment of injured FF’s, independent trials of the detainees and transparency within their own ranks. One might think it’s a little too much to ask from an interim government but it’s part of their job description and managing a country after a bloody revolution is not an easy task to begin with.
The multitasking will be the key to take Libya forward as there is so much work that needs to be done which requires a collective effort to get things achieved on time. Nobody, however, should hesitate to contribute individually as the ultimate goal is progress towards a stable and sovereign state. It will be really important to see how the interim government prioritizes the issues here.
The next big debate is whether the elections should be postponed till the completion of the disarmament procedure. This is a very serious issue as many fear that if the elections are held in a situation in which almost everybody has access to automatic weapons, things will become very bloody and instead of making progress, Libya will become mired in the problems of the militias.
There are a number of militias which have clearly indicated that they will not hand over their weapons until there is a proper national army able to secure the whole country. Many others have made identical statements, saying they will only give up their weapons to people they trust. These statements are a matter of concern, not only to Libyans but to neighboring countries as well since there is always a chance that weapons might fall into the wrong hands.
The presence of automatic weapons in such large numbers poses a great challenge to law enforcement agencies which are almost non-existent at the moment. The only way to ensure that security and normality returns to the cities is to clear the streets of weapons. The best way to achieve this is to make the people feel so secure that they will freely hand over their weapons to the state.
It is unlikely that disarmament can be achieved between now and the elections in June. If it does not happen by then the National Transition Council (NTC) may feel obliged to prolong its tenure and that of the interim government. This will only increase the discontent as the people want to see a quick transition into the next phase.
There have been many protests demanding swift changes by the NTC. In fact there was a protest in Benghazi in which people wanted the NTC to be dissolved and they even broke into the NTC headquarters.
It is not unusual, after 42 years of authoritarian rule, that people should want to move in two different directions at the same time after but this has to be handled carefully. The interim government is doing a good job by sticking to all deadlines to lead the country to elections on time and they absolutely do not want to prolong their tenure. They are trying to establish their writ in the country in order to ensure law and order ahead of the elections. The NTC formed a committee to oversee the electoral procedure and take Libya to elections.
The electoral law of Libya that will take the country to its first elections in over 50 years was recently passed. It was drafted by two independent committees appointed by the NTC from the two major cities of the country, Tripoli and Benghazi. They released a draft of the law for feedback from the people. This draft law was heavily criticized by both voters and political parties. The committee then tabled a modified draft that was passed after days of discussions and more modifications.
The elections should be held in June if the electoral law is implemented as written. This means the people will elect 200 members to the national congress. This means less than 6 months to prepare for the elections, including the registration of voters and the political campaigns themselves. This will not only keep the people busy but it will empower the interim government to exert control on all parts of the country.
The elected congress will have the faith and complete support of the people since the actual source of power will be the people themselves. The people will feel important and they will cooperate with the government on all matters such as disarmament and the creation of the national army. They will persuade the brigades to disarm and join the army and thus solve one of the most serious problems. They will share the blame for mistakes and also take the credit for the good work done.
The government will be able to deal with all outstanding issues knowing that they have the consent of the people behind them. They will also be cautious with their actions as they will be held responsible for all their actions. This will help eliminate corruption as people in power will be afraid of the functioning and transparent accountability institutions.
The elected members will play the main role in dissolving the armed brigades in order to create the National Army. They will also get the people to hand over their weapons as the matter of the trust deficit will be gone. The people and the brigade commanders will listen to the congress members elected from their respective constituencies as they are responsible for the members’ being in the congress. They in fact voted the members into power.
The stability of Libya is directly related to the formation of the National Army. The only way to achieve this is to give all democratic institutions the proper valuation and this is only possible if you do not see random faces in power but only the ones that you have voted into power. Their decisions will thus be respected in their constituencies and this will pave the way for a weapon-free society and a stable and sovereign Libya.
Umar Khan can be found at twitter.com/umarnkhan [/restrict]