August 31, 2011 (AFP)
August 31, 2011 (AFP)
Libyan rebels may not want foreign troops, but they will need outside help getting used to a democracy they have never known, according to the UN’s chief planner for life after Moamer Kadhafi.
Ian Martin, special advisor to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has been working for months on how to revive political life in a country with virtually “no living memory of elections”.
The UN does not expect the National Transitional Council (NTC) to ask for military observers, Martin said after a UN Security Council meeting on the conflict.
“It’s very clear that the Libyans want to avoid any kind of military deployment of the UN or others,” he said.
But the United Nations could organize an international force of police trainers and monitors to help the country, which Ban said recently was “awash” with weapons following the six-month uprising inspired by the Arab Spring.
Ban said the international community could now “hope for a quick conclusion to the conflict and an end to the suffering of the Libyan people,” now that rebels have taken over virtually the entire country, including Tripoli.
The secretary general, his post-conflict planner and other top officials will hold talks with rebel government leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil at an international summit on Libya in Paris on Thursday.
Martin said the United Nations would inquire whether the council wants police help, but said the UN mission for Libya — expected to be approved by the Security Council within weeks — would focus on political work.
“After four decades under Kadhafi, Libya has become a political desert, full of frustration and hope, but like other countries with a similar history, prone to seeing mirages,” commented one UN Security Council envoy.
The interim government’s roadmap sets a target of establishing a formal government within 30 days “after they declare liberation in Tripoli” and national elections in 240 days, Martin said.
UN experts with experience of Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries still adjusting to democracy have already made a lot of plans on “what would be necessary to make elections feasible in a country where there is essentially no living memory of elections,” Martin said.
“There is no electoral machinery, no electoral commission, no history of political parties. Independent civil society, independent media are only beginning to emerge in the east in recent times,” the UN official added.
“That is going to be quite a challenge organizationally and it is clear the NTC wish the UN to play a major role in that process,” he added.
The United Nations will also help with a new constitution, extending state authority and making its institutions more accountable, Martin said, adding that another key challenge would be transitional justice.
Libya’s new leaders will face a “difficult balance” between “accountability within the law for egregious human rights abuses and for national reconciliation,” the UN advisor said.
Libya has only been an independent country for 60 years, and for 40 of them Kadhafi kept the lid on a stew of regional and tribal rivalries that might otherwise have fed a battle for power and the country’s oil revenues.