Bloomberg News

Libya Declares Liberation, End to 42 Years of Qaddafi Era

October 24, 2011

(Updates with Jibril comment in sixth paragraph.)

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Libya’s interim leaders officially declared the country’s “liberation” following the death of Muammar Qaddafi and called for reconciliation after 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 yesterday at a ceremony in Benghazi marked by fireworks, cheering crowds and celebratory gunfire.

The ceremonial announcement sets in motion a process that calls for a new interim government to be announced within about a month and for the first elections within eight months, NTC leaders have said. The new government will need to restore order and forge unity among the rebels as well as revive the economy.

In his address to Libyans raising the tricolor flags that have emerged as a symbol of their revolt, NTC chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil urged “forgiveness and reconciliation” and struck an Islamic tone when speaking of the post-Qaddafi Libya. He knelt to the ground to thank God as he declared an end to Qaddafi’s rule.

“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 banking industry would be Shariah- compliant and that Islamic law would govern marriage and divorce in the north African country. Charging interest “brings about diseases and creates hatred,” he said.

Qaddafi’s Death

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 have been lining up to see Qaddafi’s body, which was on public display in the western city of Misrata. Qaddafi will 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.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she would “strongly support” investigations by the UN and Libya’s leaders into the circumstances of his death.

Third to Go

“It’s important that this new government -- this effort to have a democratic Libya -- start with the rule of law, start with accountability,” Clinton said yesterday in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.

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.

Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said he would resign after Libya’s liberation 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.

Parliamentary and presidential elections will be held within a year of the balloting for the constitutional assembly, The Associated Press reported.

Obama’s Congratulations

“I congratulate the people of Libya on today’s historic declaration of liberation,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the TNC and an empowered transitional government as they prepare for the country’s first free and fair elections.”

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 in an Oct. 22 interview at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

He told delegates at the forum that Libya has used up about 62 percent of its oil reserves and urgently needs to find alternative sources of income to rebuild its war-torn economy.

Libya’s unemployment tops 30 percent, according to Jibril.

--With assistance from Maher Chmaytelli in Dubai, Jihen Laghmari in Cairo, and Joshua Gallu in Washington and Ladane Nasseri in Dubai. Editors: Andrew J. Barden, Ben Holland

To contact the reporters on this story: Mariam Fam in Cairo at mfam1@bloomberg.net; Ola Galal in Benghazi at ogalal@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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