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Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Libya’s interim leaders officially declared the country’s “liberation” following the death of Muammar Qaddafi and called for reconciliation following more than four decades under the autocratic leader.
“We enter with steady steps and with faith in God a new period, the post-liberation period,” Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, the vice chairman of the National Transitional Council, said at a televised ceremony in Benghazi marked by cheering crowds, celebratory gunfire and fireworks. “It’s a phase that requires from all of us more responsibility and more effort,” he said.
NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil yesterday declared an end to Qaddafi’s rule and knelt to the ground to thank God. “Raise your head up high, you’re a free Libyan,” chanted the crowds. “The blood of the martyrs has not been shed in vain.”
“I am very happy, I feel I am being born again,” said 45- year-old Hasnaa Bouhabib, a teacher and mother of three, said yesterday. “I never imagined such a day would come. This is unimaginable.”
A new government will need to restore order and forge unity among the rebels who ended Qaddafi’s reign as well as revive the economy. Libya’s unemployment tops 30 percent, according to acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, and foreign companies have fled due to security concerns.
Qaddafi’s death on Oct. 20 followed eight months of fighting between loyalists and the one-time rebels who now run the country after seizing the capital, Tripoli, in August.
Libyans had been lining up to see Qaddafi’s body on public display in the western city of Misrata. Qaddafi was to be interred at an undisclosed location “to protect the burial site from being desecrated,” according to Hassan Essghayr, a member of the interim National Transitional Council.
A United Nations probe may investigate the manner of Qaddafi’s death after videos of his last moments were released on the Internet. One shows Qaddafi with a gunshot wound to his head after a struggle with fighters.
Qaddafi’s son and heir-apparent Saif al-Islam, whose location isn’t known, vowed to continue fighting and told the revolutionaries to “go to hell” in a one-minute audio message aired over the weekend by a Syrian-based television station, Al Arabiya reported.
Qaddafi is the third autocrat to be deposed and the first to die in this year’s Arab Spring uprisings. Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia in January. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was toppled a month later and is currently on trial, accused of conspiring to kill protesters who opposed his rule. more than four decades.
As Libyan officials declared the country’s liberation yesterday, Tunisians streamed into polling stations for their first election after Ben Ali’s ouster, a vote seen by many as a litmus test for the country’s transformation and a possible bellwether for change elsewhere in the region.
Jalil said yesterday he hopes the Syrian and Yemeni people, who have also risen up against their leaders, are victorious.
Jibril said he would resign after the declaration, keeping a commitment he made to leave once the Qaddafi regime fell. He said he had asked the acting minister of oil and finance, Ali Tarhouni, to manage affairs until a new government is formed.
A new interim government is to be announced within about a month after the official declaration of liberation and elections will be held within eight months, NTC leaders have said. Parliamentary and presidential elections will be held within a year of the balloting for the constitutional assembly, the Associated Press reported.
President Barack Obama congratulated Libyans on their “historic declaration of liberation,” and said in a statement the U.S. looks forward to working with authorities “as they prepare for the country’s first free and fair elections.”
In his address to Libyans raising the tricolor flags that have emerged as a symbol of their revolt, Abdel Jalil urged “forgiveness and reconciliation” and struck an Islamic tone when speaking of the post-Qaddafi Libya. ‘
‘We, as an Islamic state, have adopted the Islamic Shariah as the main source of legislation,” he said. “As such, any law that runs contrary to the Islamic principles of the Islamic Shariah is legally void.”
He said the country’s new leadership is seeking to establish Islamic banks that ban the payment of interest. Charging interest “brings about diseases and creates hatred,” he said.
The NTC has been attempting to persuade as many as 50 foreign companies to return to Libya and many had refused due to security concerns, Jibril said.
--With assistance from Maher Chmaytelli in Dubai. Editors: Ann Hughey, Louis Meixler.
To contact the reporters on this story: Mariam Fam in Cairo at email@example.com; Ola Galal in Benghazi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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