Apparently buoyed by the uprising in Tunisia and Egypt, which saw the exit of Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak respectively, the Libyan people started their own revolution on February 15, 2011 from Benghazi.
By August 22 of same year, the Libyan rebels had gained ground in most Libyan cities and laid siege to Bab al-Aziziya official residence of Col. Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.
With the ferocity of the rebels’ push, the erstwhile strongman was on the run but still tried to hold out in Sirte, his native town.
On October 20, he was cornered, captured and killed by the rebels and so ended the more than four decades of the erstwhile strongman’s reign in the oil-rich desert nation.
Sure, NATO forces’ assistance had been tremendous in achieving the objectives of the Libyan rebels. For the rebels themselves, it was a hard-earned victory as they lost most of their compatriots during the fierce struggle.
Today, Gaddafi is long gone but it is not yet uhuru for the desert nation, which many say, had prospered very well under Gaddafi’s reign in terms of infrastructural development.
Although a National Transitional Council (NTC) is already in place, the nation is still embroiled in political, economic and social travails, which many international affairs analysts say are threatening the continued peace of the nation.
The international community, especially Western nations, which aided the ousting of Gaddafi are, however, not apathetic to the elusive peace in Libya. Through very subtle means, they have tried to stabilize the polity and ensure the full enthronement of real democratic values.
First, it was the rumblings in Benghazi in the immediate aftermath of the exit of Gaddafi. A mass protest had taken on the TNC, alleging that the council was largely constituted by persons who had been close allies of the deposed leader. They, therefore, doubted the ability of the former Gaddafi allies to midwife the emergence of a new Libya.
Consequently, the NTC’s second-in-command, Abdel Ghoga, a Benghazi citizen, was forced to step down as he had been identified as a ‘main man’ to Gaddafi, until he defected to the rebel’s side at a point during the uprising.
NTC’s head, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, as follow up, suspended all six delegates from Benghazi on the council indefinitely. The move was interpreted by analysts to be a pacification of Benghazi citizens as well as an appreciation of their concerns.
Meanwhile, remnants of Gaddafi’s forces have yet to completely lay down their arms as there had been skirmishes now and then in Tripoli and other parts of the country.
On January 24, 2012, for instance, some of such loyalists seized back the town of Bani Walid and raised the sacked government’s green flag, though the TNC moved fast to broker a peace deal on a mutually accepted terms.
The skirmish was a grim reminder that the country’s peace was still fragile and that the TNC had not been able to hold the country firmly.
“There is now this massive expectation. Before now, the NTC had made excuses that they were still running a war. They don’t have that now. Everything now has got to happen,” John Hamilton, a Libya expert said.
“That’s a hard task. They have to deliver for the people. On the other hand, this may renew the honeymoon they enjoyed when Tripoli fell, if they can put a decent government together in a short time,” he added.
Not a few analysts think that the NTC, now headed by Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, and Abdurrahim el-Keib as the new Prime Minister, should act fast to stabilize the nation, so that it could pursue the urgent programme of reconstruction and reconciliation of the country.
“To some Libyans, Gaddafi is now a martyr somehow and this can become the rallying point for irredentist or tribal violence — perhaps not in the immediate future but in the medium-to-long term,” said George Joffe, North Africa expert at Cambridge University in the U.K.
“The fact that NATO can be blamed for his death in some quarters is worrying in terms of regional support, and this may undermine the legitimacy of the National Transitional Council,” he feared.
In its latest report on Libya, Amnesty International claimed that militia reprisal attacks against dark-skinned Libyans and African contract workers were continuing. This of course, has the potential to ruffle Libya’s relationship with countries whose nationals are involved.
Under Gaddafi, many of these migrants had found viable means of livelihood in Libya, mostly as construction workers but during the war, the rebels branded the blacks among them particularly, as mercenaries, who availed their services to the late Libyan strongman.
“African migrants and refugees are also being targeted and revenge attacks are being carried out,” Amnesty said in the report.
“Entire communities have been forcibly displaced and authorities have done nothing to investigate the abuses and hold people responsible for the abuses.
“The violence took on an ethnic twist; they’re wreaking havoc in the community,” said Miss Donatella Rovera, an amnesty crisis researcher.
Amnesty further said that militias from Misrata, for instance, sacked the entire population of Tanagra, estimated at some 30,000 while looting and burning down their homes in revenge for crimes some Tawargha were said to have committed against the rebels during the conflict.
Because of all these, pressure has started to mount on Libya from the international community, to seek genuine reconciliation amongst the Libyan people, irrespective of their positions during the war.
Other of the migrants had also come from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, China and other Asian countries.
What lessons therefore, have other African nations to learn from the Libyan crises in particular, many an analyst may ask!
Some say that it is a pointer to the fact that dictatorship had become out-fashioned on the continent and that its leaders must strive to democratize their polities, with a view to allowing more participation in governance and the political process.
According to Prof. Iro Uke, Department of Political Science, University of Abuja, “Africans should develop Africa and depend less on the West”.
He bemoaned the ugly treatment meted out to black African migrants in Libya during the crisis, especially Nigerians, advising that Libyans must begin to see fellow Africans as brothers.
“African leaders should bend down and develop Africa; we need not depend on the West for everything.
“Libya is a country of just six million; therefore, they should encourage Africans to stay and develop their country for them.
“Black Africans living in Libya have contributed a lot towards the development of that country and they should not be treated as second-class citizens,” Uke said.
The university don, however, cautioned the West against the application of force to oust any African leader perceived as not dancing to their tunes.
He, nonetheless, advised African leaders not to give the West any opportunity to stampede them out of office by overstaying their tenures in office.
With the benefit of hindsight, some analysts pointed out that late Gaddafi achieved a lot for his people although his over-stay in office turned to his albatross.
Mr Oraba Dominic, a political scientist, said it was ironical that Gaddafi went the way he did.
“He stood for African unity and funded lots of developmental projects in Africa; but on the other hand, he sponsored many coups, civil wars and secessionist moves, which destabilized many African nations.”
Meanwhile, the proliferation of arms in Libya as a result of the civil war has posed a major challenge for the TNC as well as the international community.
The U.N. has already voiced its concerns, urging the TNC to do all within its powers to recover the huge volume of arms and ammunitions in unauthorized hands in Libya.
There had also been fears that many of such weapons may unwittingly fall into wrong hands in other nations in the sub-region, through the unscrupulous activities of gun runners and thus threaten the peace of many otherwise peaceful nations.