Libya’s rulers to bury the hatchet with Gaddafi’s army

Libya’s new rulers said on Saturday that they are ready to forgive the forces of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who battled rebels trying to topple his autocratic regime during the brutal revolution.

“In Libya we are able to absorb all. Libya is for all,” the National Transitional Council (NTC) chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil said in Tripoli as he launched a national reconciliation conference organised by the NTC.

“Despite what the army of the oppressor did to our cities and our villages, our brothers who fought against the rebels as the army of Gadaffi, we are ready to forgive them”, he said in Arabic remarks that were translated into English by an official.

“We are able to forgive and tolerate”, he added.

The conference, the first of its kind since the NTC declared the total liberation of Libya on October 23, was attended by delegates from the major Libyan tribes, as well as from Qatar and Tunisia.

Transitional justice needed
Libya’s new interim Prime Minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib echoed Abdel Jalil.

“National reconciliation is an essential condition to build the constitutional institutions of a state”, he told the conference.

“The future cannot be built with revenge as a base.”

But he said that those who “committed torture, rape, murders and stole public wealth [during the revolution] have to be held accountable … transitional justice is needed in order to reach reconciliation”.

The Hague-based International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in June that the court’s investigators had evidence that Gadaffi ordered mass rapes and bought containers of sex drugs for troops to attack women during the revolt against him.

Pressure to disarm rebels
Al-Kib announced his government on November 22, just a month after the capture and lynching of Gadaffi, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 42 years.

A statement issued in November said the new government will help efforts by the NTC “to achieve national reconciliation” in Libya.

It will also strive to rebuild the army and the security forces and promote “the integration of interested citizens into these institutions”, said the statement.

Meanwhile, al-Kib’s government is under heavy pressure to disarm hundreds of former rebels who toppled Gadaffi’s regime and are now enforcing security on the streets.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said after the death of Gadaffi on October 20 that for the transitional authorities in Libya, “inclusion and pluralism must be the watchwords”, urging all sides to avoid revenge attacks.

National reconciliation on the cards
Observers and human rights group members have said that Libya’s new rulers will have to come up with firm plans to win the trust of residents of towns such as Bani Walid and Sirte, former strongholds of Gadaffi.

“National reconciliation is extremely important … it is an issue in Bani Walid”, Mahmud Warfalli, a member of Libya’s Warfalla tribe and spokesperson of the Bani Walid local council, said on the side lines of the conference.

The town, just 170 kilometres from the capital Tripoli, epitomises the problems the NTC must resolve, as several of its residents have often expressed a desire for revenge after their homes were looted and pillaged by former rebels who ousted Gadaffi.

But staunch supporters of the new rulers said the whole of Libya needed to be rebuilt and not just Bani Walid or Gadaffi’s hometown Sirte.

“We have to rebuild Misrata, Ajdabiya, Zintan … all the cities … Sirte is just one of them. We have to be fair towards everybody,” said Ali Sallabi, an influential Islamist leader who funded and armed anti-Gadaffi fighters during the rebellion. — Sapa-AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Jay Deshmukh
Jay Deshmukh
Sudan Bureau Chief for Agence France Presse (AFP) based in Khartoum.

Related stories

Mass protests for civilian rule rock Sudan

On Sunday, police fired several rounds of tear gas on crowds approaching the presidential palace after organisers called for a march

UN attacks ‘ghastly’ conditions in Libya migrant detention centres

According to UN figures, some 3 400 migrants and refugees remain detained in Tripoli, which has seen a surge in fighting since early April

Libya clashes death toll rises to 32: UN-backed government

Clashes near Tripoli in Sunday have killed at least 32 people, with a further 50 people left wounded

Failure to govern geoengineering could destabilise peace and security

Failure to govern new technologies to combat global warming could aggravate existing threats to international peace and security

Public finance is key to delivering the human right to health

Across all countries and societies, access to health and healthcare services ought to be top priority

Mandela left us the fabric for a new SA

He acted within a specific context and entrusted all South Africans to build the society we want

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday