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Endgame for Gaddafi
Friday 21 October 2011
Gaddafi is dead, that’s a reality. His death is almost anti-climactic.
However, in life and death, Gaddafi remains controversial…. With Gaddafi gone, there is no common enemy, which creates room for primordial interests to become manifest. Without proper care and management, his ghost will haunt Libya more than he did alive.
As expected by many, former Libyan strongman, Muammar Gaddafi, who came to power by the force of arms in 1969, died this week by the force of arms at age 69. Like all despots, Gaddafi lived and ruled bizarrely and likewise, died bizarrely by the sword. That was hardly surprising. But it was also his choice, based on faux invincibility that is the trait of most despots, until the very revolting end. Not many are shedding tears for him – not at home and not abroad!
Gaddafi derided his people calling them “rats,” but as fate would have it, it was they who killed him like a rat after reportedly hauling him a "sewage pipe". Therein lies the greatest lesson of all for those in power and those who seek power. True leadership rest on heeding the voice of the people, for always, the people will have the final say.
Gaddafi is dead, that’s a reality. Incidentally his death is almost anti-climactic. Still, in life and death, Gaddafi remains controversial. As things stand, concern is already being raised that Gaddafi might have been executed while in captivity. Photos and videos in the public domain seem to confirm as much. If that is the case, then issues abound that relate to violation of fundamental principles of international law, prisoners of war and human rights conventions and indeed, prohibitions against extrajudicial killings. That being the case, the euphoria of those who killed him might be short-lived. Convenient as Gaddafi’s exit is, the international community cannot turn a blind eye to the manner of his death. If so, those who killed him are no better than him, not by any measure.
Nonetheless, Libya will have to move on and avoid the haunting ghost of Gaddafi’s martyrdom. Such martyrdom cannot be wished away since there are many in and outside Libya who will seek to capitalize on it, especially if the TNC does not deliver dividends of democracy expeditiously and if they do not clean up their act and embark on true reconciliation.
So, what is next for Libya and can the nation rally around one leader and from which tribe? Aside from the ravages of war, Libya is in disarray. Lest we forget, there were already numerous casualties on both sides of this uneven and ill-defined civil war. There were many collateral damages and more will become manifest in due course. The serving TNC prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, is already past his primetime in that office, courtesy of trenchant critics of the Council. Now that the booties of war must be shared, his successor-in-office will walk on eggshell until the dust of the war settles, which won’t be for a while.
There will also be other challenges, aside from reconciliation and rebuilding Libya. Expectedly, Libyans will seek full ownership of the post-war processes. But the political and power-sharing process will prove fractious and halting. Post-Najibula Afghanistan and post-Saddam Iraq serve as stark examples.
Of all challenges, disarmament and rebuilding the Libyan military and police force will be tops. In the throes of war that granted unfettered room to all comers, Libya had become a haven for terrorist infiltrates. Hence, while the containment of rogue rebels with affiliation to or sympathy for terrorist groups will also be a pressing and top priority issue on the international agenda, it might not necessarily be so for the Libyans. Even now, there are too many guns in private hands, and in a post-war environment, those who are sufficiently armed will hold sway over strategic negotiations and leadership choices. These realities cannot be taken for granted.
Moreover, the temptation to mete out agonizing reprisals against Gaddafi supporters and perceived mercenaries now in custody will be rife, if not overpowering. Some will deem such acts justifiable under the circumstances. Were such allowed to happen, it will exacerbate tribal divisions ensuring that the adverse residual impact of this revolution would linger awhile.
Curiously, and rather precipitously, the endgame for Gaddafi has been interpreted by some as a new beginning for Libya. Surely as it is the end of a sorry and painful era for Libyans, it is by no means the end of history, which is just merely unfolding. The task of liberating Libya has only just begun and Libyans will declare Liberation Day anytime soon. But many circles will need to be squared before a return to normalcy and peace and security in that country.
Meanwhile, Libya is like broken china in the sun. The brittle pieces are clearly visible but too many and therefore, extremely hard to put together. What is more troubling is that with Gaddafi gone, there is no longer a common enemy, which creates room for primordial interests to become manifest. Without proper care and proper management, Gaddafi’s ghost will haunt Libya more than he did alive. Only time will tell.
With neither anger nor partiality, until next time, keep the law, stay impartial, and observe closely.
Hank Eso is a columnist for Kwenu.com. His observations on Nigerian, African and global politics and related issues, has appeared in various print media, journals and internet-based sites. © Hank Eso, 21 October 2011. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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