After Ghaddafi What Next? By Sola Ademuluyi

At 27, Colonel Muammar Ghaddafi came to power in 1969 as military officer intent on introducing reforms to the state plagued by the burden of conservatism. He had socialist leanings and ensured education was free and primary education was compulsory for both sexes, healthcare was free and housing was almost affordable for all. The income per capita increased to $11,000 which made Libya the fifth highest in the continent. On a personal note, I visited the country when he was still in power and was impressed at the quality of life the citizens enjoyed. A pretty damsel who had a crush on me wanted to follow me back home. I urged her to stay back as I wanted her to retain her fair complexion and glowing skin which the school of hard knocks was sure to take away if she had followed her heart instead of her head.

There is no free lunch in free town and the cost of all these goodies came at a great cost – the loss of liberty for the citizens. He ran a repressive government which killed, imprisoned and tortured dissidents both at home and abroad. Libyan exiles could not be guaranteed the safety of their lives in the United Kingdom and United States which were their favourite places of asylum as his agents sometimes allegedly working with some allies in the security agencies of the host countries liquidated them mercilessly. He even declared that his critics could be murdered in Mecca when performing their annual pilgrimage. The 2009 Freedom of Press Index ranked Libya as the most censored country in North Africa and the Middle East.

His foreign policies were a contradiction of what obtained at home. While denying his citizens the much vaulted freedom, he openly supported the liberation efforts of the African National Congress working towards the freedom of Nelson Mandela, Irish Republican Army, Palestinian Liberation Organisation and the Polisario Front. These backings greatly strained his relations with Uncle Sam which led to the 1986 bombing of the country. Both countries patched things up after the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks. This relationship gave America and other Western countries the leeway to lucrative oil contracts and their banks smiled when billions of dollars was transferred to them.

It is a well known fact that the west plays lip service to issues of human rights violation in the Maghreb and Middle East as a whole especially when their interests are not affected. As long as the petro dollars kept flowing, Ghaddafi could harass and murder his people for all they cared. One wonders why the West kept silent for 42 years! The hypocrisy is so nauseating!

A paradigmatic shift occurred with the wind of change blowing in the Arab world when the citizens demanded liberty and accountability from their leaders and were clearly dissatisfied with the pittances they received. The influence of western education, spread of the new media which ensured a swift diffusion of information and its effective deployment for positive change ensured a gargantuan threat to the old repressive order. In foreign relations, the only permanent thing is interest and when the rebels in Benghazi were hell bent on dislodging the brutal Ghaddafi, the wily America had to sacrifice him in order to ensure that their interests would not be jeopardised in the African Nation with the largest oil reserves.

Ghaddafi and his sons were killed but the western hypocrisy quickly played itself out. Moussa Koussa who was the Intelligence Chief and Foreign Affairs Minister under the murdered tyrant who collaborated in many crimes was let off the hook by the ICC who indicted Ghaddafi and his sons even before the commencement of a trial. Koussa after being granted asylum in the UK and US is currently enjoying his loot in one of the states in the Gulf States. Documents were allegedly found in his Tripoli home which pointed to an exchange of correspondence between him and the western intelligence agencies.

Ghaddafi’s death two years after has not brought the much talked about reforms which was the basis of the uprising. Libyans are killed on a daily basis by the rebels, disappearances is the order of the day as well. 8000 prisoners are currently held without trial in government prisons for being suspected to have fought for Ghaddafi. More than 30 deaths have been caused by torture since the death of the former strongman. Rebels in Cyrenaica have opened their independent parliament in Benghazi. The fall out of the spring seems to be a rehash of what happened after the French Revolution.

The new leaders must close ranks and solve the problems without foreign interference. It will be difficult because of the absence of democracy and dialogue for over seventy years but efforts should be made to stop the killings, decide on the way forward, consolidate the economic gains made by Ghaddafi and expand the frontiers of prosperity in all its ramifications. They and not the west should determine their future and break the jinx of western inspired rebellions which does not take into account the interest of the continent.


Sola urges Libyans to take hold of their future