For a New Libya, Major Challenges Lie Ahead

For a New Libya, Major Challenges Lie Ahead

With the breaking of Libya's many-month stalemate, the end of a 42-year reign of megalomaniacal tyranny has arrived. As the rebels attempt to consolidate power in Tripoli, however, what lies ahead for Libya as a nation and for the foreign powers that paved the way for Moammar Gadhafi's ouster remains far from certain. Key to the future of a viable Libya will be law, stabilization and reconstruction so that civil society can be re-established swiftly.

After four decades of inequity, revenge will be hard to avoid. Nonetheless, Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) has emphasized to rebel fighters that retribution against Gadhafi loyalists must be legally based, handled through the council and not dispensed ad hoc. Although Gadhafi and his lieutenants have been called to account by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, most of his government's atrocities were against the Libyan people themselves. Justice appropriately meted out at home would be best, providing catharsis to the local population while avoiding any shadow of Western prejudice.

Beyond the fate of former elites, continuous, impartial efforts to prevent breakdown of law and order must be implemented at the level of ordinary citizens so that confidence in the system can be established. Every employee of the former regime should not be fired, as happened in Iraq; doing so would leave too few with training and experience to maintain the peace. It is possible, too, that deployment of an international constabulary may become necessary for the short term, as was the case in the Balkans.

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