Remember years of agony in Libya, says Mahmoud Jibril

Mahmoud Jibril has said he will step down - and that that was always his plan. Photo: Jacopo Raule
Mahmoud Jibril has said he will step down - and that that was always his plan. Photo: Jacopo Raule
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LIBYA’S war-time leader Mahmoud Jibril announced yesterday he would step down ahead of today’s day of “liberation” from the brutal Gaddafi regime after confirming that elections would be held within eight months.

With one eye on the threats of civil unrest between tribes across the desert country, Jibril, who spent seven months heading the rebel government as the prime minister of Libya’s National Transitional Council, said now was not a time for in-fighting if Libyans were to keep to a plan to hold their first free elections next year.

Jibril, an expatriate academic, said he had always planned to stand down after liberation was secured. Progress for Libya following Colonel Gaddafi’s death would need great resolution, he added, both by interim leaders on the NTC and by six million war-weary people.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, Jibril said the country’s immediate future depended first on what kind of “resolve the NTC will show in the next few days. And the other thing depends mainly on the Libyan people – whether they differentiate between the past and the future.”

He said the first election should take place within a period of eight months to form a national congress of Libya. “This national congress would have two tasks – draft a constitution, on which we would have a referendum, and the second to form an interim government to last until the first presidential elections are held.”

Urging a vision to diversify the economy away from oil, and a rejection of exploiting energy contracts for political ends, Jibril added: “I am counting on them to look ahead and remember the kind of agony they went through in the last 42 years. We need to seize this very limited opportunity.”

The long-awaited declaration of liberation will come more than two months after revolutionary forces swept into Tripoli and seized control of most of the oil-rich African nation with the help of Nato airforces.

Yesterday, Fathi Bashagha, a spokesman for the Misrata military council, said a decision on the fate of Gaddafi’s body will be made in the next few days.

But he ruled out a full autopsy unless demanded by an international committee or the transitional government and said: “So far there have been no requests.”

At least four groups of doctors have examined the body and determined the cause of death was a bullet to the head and stomach, Bashagha said. “As far as we are concerned in Misrata, doctors have checked him and determined how he died, so there is no need to cut his body up,” he said.