Tripoli times

Libya is essential for stability in the Maghreb and beyond. The likely liberal victory inspires hope

Written by The Indian Express | Published: July 17, 2012 1:18:38 am

Libya is essential for stability in the Maghreb and beyond. The likely liberal victory inspires hope

In a sinister indication of the challenge that confronts Mahmoud Jibril’s 60-party National Forces Alliance (NFA),the head of Libya’s Olympic committee has been abducted in Tripoli. The incident casts its shadow over this month’s successful elections,early results of which suggest a victory for the liberal NFA. Since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi last October,Libya’s interim administration has struggled to control armed militias. Disarming and returning them to the mainstream will be a top priority for the new government,as part of its efforts to unite Libya’s tribes and regions,even as it contends with and co-opts the religious parties — such as the NFA’s main rival,the Justice and Construction Party,affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood — which appear to have lost the polls,unlike their counterparts in post-Arab Spring Egypt and Tunisia.

Suspicious of radical Islamist ideology,and thus of religious parties and Islamist radicals,even the conservative east and tribal south appear to have supported the NFA,preferring its pragmatic and moderate leader,believed to be most capable of running a government. Although some hold against Jibril his earlier service to the Gaddafi regime,his leadership of the National Transitional Council through the civil war,till his resignation last October,has served him well in an overarchingly centrist polity. From human rights and economic growth to handling the militias and assuaging the federalist east,the new administration will have its hands full.

A stable Libya is essential for stability in the Maghreb and beyond. Mali,where the Timbuktu shrines have been desecrated by Islamist rebels,is the first victim of Libya’s protracted civil war,with arms and fighters pouring in since Gaddafi’s fall. Given its long and bloody path to change,Libya’s apparent liberal turn through the ballot should inspire hope.

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