CHALLENGES that Libya faces after the death of Colonel Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gathafi are enormous and numerous. A country of only 6.6 million, but with a land area of 1,759,540 square kilometres, almost twice the size of Nigeria, will be prone to security issues along its borders with Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Niger, Sudan and Tunisia — areas that are perpetually under control of some armed militias.
Gathafi was often accused of arming those armies. More challenges would result from building a new Libyan army. Effectively, Libya does not have a national army today. Most of those who should pass for the national army fought on the side of Gathafi, they would need to be re-absorbed into a new army. The over-whelming presence of foreign troops, who participated in wars against Gathafi would be another hot issue soon.
These would be as demanding as retrieving the thousands of sophisticated weaponry in private hands. The National Transition Council, NTC, has no effective control over the fighters. An early sign of this weakness showed in the announcement of Gathafi’s death. The NTC pieced together information from what it was told by fighters, who appeared to have acted on their own initiative. Can it disarm them?
It will take years to get the country working. Damage to oil facilities would deny Libya much needed resources and could even push up the global price of oil. More work would be required to restore infrastructure that aided the country’s listing as 53rd in the 2010 human development index. Nigeria was ranked 142nd on the same list.
Libyans have a lot of catching up to do. There has never been an elected government in Libya. Elections are slated for June 2012 — Libyans know nothing about democratic governance. The primitiveness dictatorship promotes would be evident in the discoveries Libyans will make about their backwardness in democracy.
The events in Libya present another opportunity to sweep the African landscape and its lengthening list of dictators, who are becoming mentors to even elected governments. The latest appendage to democracy is the prospects of seizing power after gaining it through elections.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe, 86, has ruined Zimbabwe since its independence 30 years ago. Like Gathafi, he has obliterated the opposition and diminished Zimbabwe’s chances of ever making progress in the next three decades.
Other African dictators, who are making no efforts to loosen their grip are Cameroon’s Paul Biya, 79, and in office since 1981, Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires, Cape Verde (77), who became President 20 years ago, but had been Prime Minister for 17 years, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir (67) and in office for 22 years. Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, at 67, has ruled his country for 24 years since its independence 39 years ago.
Those clinging to power include Angola’s Eduardo Dos Santos, 72, and in power for 34 years; President Teodoro Obiang Nguema in power since August 1979 after executing his uncle, Macias Nguema. Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compoare, 24 years, Amadou Toumani Toure (63) of Mali and Idriss Deby Itno (60) of the Republic of Chad, 22 years each are in the expanding list.
Dictators in Africa are too far gone in their loss of touch with reality. Gathafi’s fall would only make them more oppressive as they wait for their own fall.