Next steps in Libya

The NATO led “no fly zone” achieved the purpose outlined in the UN Security Council resolution 1973 by averting the expected humanitarian disaster in Benghazi.  That limited purpose is enough.  It is clear now that Qaddafi enjoys a significant level of popular support and he also has backing from several governments in the region.  Over the years the government of Libya delivered more to its people than other governments in Africa.  Libya has the finest healthcare system in Africa with average lifespan almost equal to that of the US.   Literacy levels are among the highest in Africa.  Free education was available to all citizens through graduate school including foreign study for qualified students.   Libyans also had open access to satellite TV and other worldwide information sources.   Citizens also had the opportunity to participate in government through the jamahiriyya in committees that had operational control of government processes.   But, unemployment was high and those in power often resisted change.   But “taking Qaddafi” out to meet the demands of the the rebels would be a violation of Resolution 1973 and of the UN Charter.

Colonel Qaddafi agreed to the terms of the ceasefire offered by the African Union.  These terms were rejected by the Transitional Council in Benghazi which demanded the ouster of Quaddafi and no role of Qaddafi in Libya in the future.  How can a self-appointed group with no real legitimacy make such a demand?   The only resolution to the stalemate is a free and fair election.   Saif Qaddafi has stated that the only way that he could accept a role in a Libyan government was that if he were elected in a free and fair election.  If Saif Qaddafi is prepared to test his legitimacy to rule in a free and fair election, on what authority does a group in Benghazi deny him the right to run in an internationaly monitored, free and fair election?

The international community should inform the rebels that they expect them to resolve their problems through negotiation and dialogue among all affected Libyans and not with NATO arms.

Serious concerns have been raised about the legitimacy of Colonel Qaddafi’s rule.  Thousands have already died for this cause.  For the sake of his people he needs to accept a timely, internationally monitored free and fair election in which he would not be a candidate but where his son could run on his own merits. 

An African Union peacekeeping force can keep the peace after a ceasefire is observed by both sides while arrangements are made for an election.


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