Libya rejoiced after reports of Muammar al-Gaddafi’s death were confirmed Thursday, marking the end of a forty-two-year reign of terror. Shouts praising God, gunfire, and noisemakers pervaded the streets of Tripoli. Today, the National Transitional Council (NTC) declared the country free and will start transitioning into a democracy.
NTC fighters celebrate their victory after taking control of former dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte. (Photo courtesy of the New York Times)
NTC forces captured Gaddafi near his hometown of Sirte after a U.S. predator drone and a French fighter jet fired on a convoy leaving the city to stop its progress. The Libyan fighters attacked and found the despot. The nature of his death is unclear. Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, who has promised to resign after liberation, said Gaddafi died in crossfire between his supporters and the NTC and died en route to a hospital. Others, including Navi Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, are uncertain whether this is true. Recently available video footage suggests that he was alive when he was captured. Pillay wants an investigation.
For Libyans, it was a chance to celebrate.
Car passengers waved the independence flag outside their windows,. Others on the street sprayed the passing vehicles with orange blossom water, a custom traditionally reserved for weddings.
The international community generally stated its approval of the liberation.
“We can definitely say that the Gaddafi regime has come to an end,” said U.S. President Barack Obama. “The dark shadow of tyranny has been lifted, and with this enormous promise the Libyan people now have a great responsibility to build an inclusive and tolerant and democratic Libya that stands as the ultimate rebuke to Gaddafi’s dictatorship.”
The Sun, Great Britain’s most popular newspaper, bore the headline: “That’s for Lockerbie!” The headline was a reference to the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people. An agent of Gaddafi’s was convicted for conducting the attack.
Libya faces the challenges of building a new government almost from scratch and finding a common goal to keep its people united.
While forming the government will be a major issue going forward, Libyans are able to celebrate right now. Younis Fenadi, a climate researcher at the Libyan National Meteorological Center, was happy to learn of the news, saying that Gaddafi’s death brings a degree of closure to the country. Over time, he believes, they will receive answers to questions about Gaddafi’s behavior during his regime. But more than anything, he is enjoying the potential for a brighter day.
“I am glad that I get a chance, I am 52 years old now, to speak freely in my country,” Fenadi said.
- The bloody birth of a new Libya (bbc.co.uk)
- Gaddafi death transparency urged (bbc.co.uk)
- Libya : Gaddafi’s death might trigger instability in Libya – Italian experts (laaska.wordpress.com)
- No mercy in death: Gaddafi’s remains on show (rt.com)
- Muammar Gaddafi dead (theage.com.au)