By Uduma Kalu
As Libyans continue to celebrate the death of Maummar Gaddafi, the Libya’s National Transition Council (NTC) is expected to announce the liberation of the country, a timetable for elections and a committee to draw up a new constitution today.
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the NTC, is expected to make the announcement of the country in Benghazi and will trigger the start of enormous reforms and democratic changes.
There is some controversy about this announcement taking place in Benghazi, the base of the rebellion, rather than the Libyan capital Tripoli. Tensions are brewing between the various factions that helped bring about Gaddafi’s downfall.
The NTC is supposed to be the governing body for the whole country until it dissolves itself upon the election of a new government. But already it is facing challenges to its authority.
It has demanded that the various militia now occupying Tripoli return to the parts of the country from which they came. They have refused and the group has been powerless to enforce that demand, or the one to hand in weapons. It cannot even stop gunmen from firing into the air in celebration.
The NTC is an umbrella group supposedly representing the main strands of Libyan society. However there is a split between east and west, between Benghazi and Tripoli, the mountains and cities, the Berbers and Arabs, the secular and the religious, and between Misratah and everyone else. The fighters from each group answer to their faction, not to the idea of the Libyan nation.
For example, the NTC was formed in Benghazi in the east but has now moved to the capital.
Before it got there a fledgling Tripoli Military Council (TMC) had been formed and the TMC is not minded to take orders from the NTC. The Misratah Brigade feels Misratah did the bulk of the suffering and fighting, and so wants a top seat at the table. NTC official Ali Tarhouni, who is oil minister in the interim government, said a decision had not yet been taken on Gaddafi’s burial.
“I told them to keep it in the freezer for a few days… to make sure that everybody knows he is dead,” he told Reuters. Tarhouni also said a decision on who would be prime minister of Libya’s interim government would be made “most likely next week,” adding that he was a contender.
He said the NTC had set a rough timetable of eight months for drafting a new constitution, then holding elections, but added: “I think it will be longer than eight months.” It is possible the move towards elections and the formation of political parties will result in the differences being settled peacefully. There is certainly enough money to go around – Libya is a fabulously wealthy country and now there is a chance for that wealth to be shared. The problem is getting from the current state of armed groups representing different interests to elected officials governing for all.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi will be buried according to Muslim rites within 24 hours, a Libyan transitional government force commander said Friday, and witnesses said the body bore a visible bullet hole in the head. There was some blood on the body though far less than seen in a video of Gaddafi shortly after his capture. Fighters shouted “God is great” as they were ushered in by guards. There were no officials of the ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) in the area.
There were signs Friday of a dispute between the NTC and the fighters from Misrata, a stronghold of the rebel movement that brought Gaddafi down with help from NATO, over where to bury the strongman who ruled for 42 years.It was not clear if the fighters on the ground felt they should have a say in the decision on Gaddafi’s burial since they fought to oust the veteran leader then hunt him down. But members of Gaddafi’s Gaddadfa tribe are in contact with a group of anti-Gaddafi fighters to discuss the possibility of taking on the task of burying him, a senior military commander of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) said on Friday.
Meanwhile, the United Nations human rights office called on Friday for a full investigation into the death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and voiced concerns that he may have been executed. A television station based in Syria that supported Muammar Gaddafi said on Friday that the slain Libyan leader’s wife has asked for a United Nations investigation into his death
Muammar Gaddafi’s eight children, whose pampered lives ranged from security chief and U.N. goodwill ambassador to playboy and professional footballer, earned reputations for extravagance, violence and bizarre behaviour almost equalling their father’s.
Amid the chaos of war, three now appear to be dead like the deposed Libyan leader himself, four are scattered in exile and one remains on the run, their lives of privilege disrupted or ended by the collapse of Gaddafi senior’s 42-year rule.