By Emeka Umeagbalasi
We welcome news of the end of the disastrous era of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in the People’s Republic of Libya, though, we preferred him being captured alive so as to face trials over his regime’s sundry grievous rights violations including mass murder, covert and overt sponsorship of international terrorism and internal political insurrections. The journey to Gaddafi’s fall remotely started in the Tunisian city of Bouzid on December 17, 2010, where 26-year old Mohammed Bouazizi, a street vendor, set himself on fire, over his frustration as per former President Azedine Ben-Ali’s failed leadership and dictatorship. The former president, who ruled his country since 1987(23 years), later fled the country on 14 January, 2011 as a result of the raging “Jasmine Revolution”.
The “Jasmine Revolution” later spread like a wild fire to Egypt, Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, Oman, Bahrain, Syria and Libya, and swept away the regime of former President Hussein Mubarak, who ruled Egypt since 1981(30 years). The immediate cause of the Libyan revolution started in Benghazi in February 2011, leading to the formation of the National Transitional Council by the opposition forces or armed opposition groups.
Gaddafi ruled Libya for 42 years and 21 days, having come to power through his “Arab Islamic Jamahiriya Socialist Revolution” in September 1969, otherwise called the “September Revolution”.
The Gaddafi revolution was disastrous to humanity. His ascendance to the Libyan political throne marked a turning point in the international peace and security. He was instrumental to the formation of the leftist and radical Organization of Islamic Conference in the late 70s to humiliate and extinguish the 21-member Arab League, formed in March 1945, because of the latter’s reconciliatory approach towards Arab-Israeli age-long conflicts, especially that between Israel and Palestinian Liberation Organization. In November 1978, Gaddafi spearheaded the setting up of a 3.5billion US Dollars fund under the aegis of the Arab League for the destruction of the state of Israel.
Within the same period, he voted 3billion US Dollars for the propagation of fundamentalist Islamism and overthrowing of the “Western puppet governments” especially in the Middle East and Africa by the Islamic radical elements .This partly led to the emergence of Ruhollah Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran in 1979, Mohammed Zia ul-Haq in Pakistan on September 16, 1978, Omar Hassan el-Bashir in Sudan in 1989, Mullah Mohammed Omar in Afghanistan in the late 1980s as the leader of Islamic Taliban movement and the country’s de facto head of State between 1996 and 2001, etc.
He recruited, trained, funded and exported thousands of mercenaries to Spain, Northern Ireland, former Yugoslavia, Americas, etc, in furtherance of his anti-West crusade. In 1997, he donated 1 billion US Dollars to the leadership of the Nation of Islam in the USA for the “advancement of Islam in USA”. In Africa, he was believed to be the brain behind the civil wars, insurrections and military take-overs in Chad (1990), Burkina Faso(1987), Gambia(1994), Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, to name but few. He was also accused of being the mastermind of the bombing of Pan American Airlines planes over Niger and Canada in 1988 and 1989 respectively, which killed over 400 passengers, though he was exonerated over that of Niger for want of concrete evidence.
He spearheaded to its logical conclusion the open campaign for the death of the Late President Anwar El- Sadat of Egypt because of the latter’s favourable disposition towards the Camp David Accord of 1979, between Israel and Egypt. Even in the attempts made on the life of Mubarak in 1995 during the OAU (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Gaddafi was suspected of being involved.
Gaddafi’s capture and not his death would have gladdened our heart, because his international trials would have been an eye opener to Libyans over his crimes against humanity. His atrocious era reminds us of the inglorious epoch of the late “Comrade” Pol Pot of the “People’s Republic of Kampuchea( Cambodia), whose bloody rule of 1975 to 1979 led to the death of more than three million people. Through his infamous “profound socio-economic changes”, the country’s economy and cultural institutes were destroyed. The prevailing Buddhist religion was banned and the clergy massacred with utter impunity.
The shameful death of Gaddafi and other members of his family means express issuance of red cards to the world’s remaining and emerging dictators to quit their long held political powers before it becomes too late. In Africa, many dictators still dot the political enclaves. Some of these dictators are: Jose Edwardo Dos Santos, Angola (1979)-32 years; Obiang Nguema Mbasago, Equatorial Guinea (1979)-32
years; Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Zimbabwe (1980)-31 years; Paul Biya, Cameroon( 1982)-29 years; Denis Sassou Ngueso, Congo Libreville ( first came in 1979, left in 1992 and returned in 1997)-27 years; Yoweri Musevi, Uganda(1986)-25 years; Blaise Campare, Burkina Faso(1987)-24 years; Omar Hassan el-Bashir, Sudan(1989)-22 years; Idris Derby, Chad(1990)-21 years; Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia(1991)-20 years; Issaias Afwerki, Eritrea(1993)-18 years; and Yahya Jammeh, Gambia(1994)-17 years.
The leaders of Djibouti, Rwanda, Senegal, Algeria, Congo DRC, Kenya, Morocco, Swaziland and Lesotho are emerging African dictators, having stayed in power for over ten years or transformed into absolute monarchies. Internationally, the Castro political hegemony in Cuba remains the world’s longest serving political power having come to power in 1959-52 years. Others are: (absolute) King Haji Hassan al-Borkiah Muizzadin Waddaulah, Brunei (1968)-43 years; (absolute)King Qaboos bin Said Al-Said, Oman(1970)-41 years; Mr. Ali Abdullah Salih, Yemen(1978)-33 years; Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan(1990)-21 years; Nursaltan Nazarbaev, Kazakhstan(1990)-21 years; Emomali Rahman, Tajikistan(1994)-17 years; Alexsandr Lukashenko, Belarus( 1994)-17 years; Kim Jong-iL, North Korea(1994)-17 years. The leaders of Jordan, Syria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Venezuela are also emerging dictators in their countries having stayed in power for over ten years or transformed into absolute monarchies. The post-Gaddafi Libya must be credibly democratic and respecter of the people’s rights and fundamental freedoms. The ICC and relevant UN bodies must also not rest on their oars until the killers of the thousands of the Libya’s innocent citizens are brought to justice to account for their heinous misdeeds or crimes against humanity.
*Umeagbalasi is chairman of Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law-Intersociety, based in Onitsha, Anambra State.