London- Former Libyan leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil is facing accusation of power abuse after being questioned in the investigation into assassination of rebel leader Abdul Fatah Yunis last year. Jalil was head of Transitional National Council (TNC) that ruled post-Gaddafi Libya until it handed over power to the General National Congress (GNC) elected in July. The man that represented rebels and led the country for a year is under investigation, which might be hailed as the rule of law dominating new Libya. Unfortunately, the reality is not quite that bright.
The newly-elected GNC took 3 months to form a government to replace Abdulrrahim Elkeib’s government, the second since Gaddafi’s fall. Their first candidate failed, and then Ali Zidan’s cabinet was confirmed last month. But 8 of his 27 ministers were not sworn in and rendered to the Integrity Commission to clear them of involvement in Gaddafi rule. That was not the elected members’ decision, but a wish enforced by militias that attacked the parliament building and forced Zidan to do this. Four of the minsters were cleared by the commission and the other appealed, the last to be cleared through appeal is the interior minister. That’s the very minister tasked with unhanding the militias and integrating them in security and armed forces. Politics is not effective in Libya; armed militias are – from the Islamist, pro-Al Qaida groups in the east through factionalist Misrata brigades to tribal groups in south and west of the country. Zidan might visit Turkey and Algeria and is received as the most senior Libyan executive, but in Tripoli and elsewhere he’s got very limited powers. Libya’s new president Mohammad Magarief, who’s from Benghazi, is not representing the whole spectrum in the eastern main city where rebellion against Gaddafi started early last year.
In short, as a veteran Libyan activist said, the ordinary people are losing faith in both rebels and leaders who can’t sort out the chaotic state of the country. Libyans see all those fighting for power now as opportunists not caring about ordinary people, but their own interests or those of their factions, tribes or even cities and towns. Big chunks of populations are kicked out of their towns and the government can’t talk to militias to allow them back. The east, where most of oil come from, is calling for more share of wealth and even a sort of autonomy, the west is a domain of armed militias and gangs, while the south is almost no-man’s land.
As Gaddafi kept the country underdeveloped for decades, fearing a developed society would challenge his autocracy, the new leaders are eager to have a modern form of democracy but with no real penetration in society. My friend Libyan activist says Nato and other powers that helped overthrow the regime “wanted us to ink our fingers in elections, like Iraqis under occupation, regardless if there is a country or just rubbles”.
Even if Ali Zidan cabinet managed to function until a constitution is written next year, Libya is a still a long way from stability.
Ayman Mustafa is a London-based Arab writer