Libya facing multiple challenges
World leaders hailed the death of former Libyan leader Muammar
Gaddafi Thursday as the end of an era of despotism and tyranny, and held
out hope for a better future for the North African nation.
As Libyans on the streets of Tripoli and Sirte fired automatic
weapons into the air and danced for joy, US President Barack Obama said
the death of the man who had ruled the oil-rich country for 42 years
ended a long, painful chapter.
“This is a momentous day in the history of Libya, the dark shadow of
tyranny has been lifted,” Obama said, adding Gaddafi’s demise vindicated
the collective military action launched by the West earlier this year.
He urged Libyans to now look to the future and build a ‘democratic’
and ‘tolerant’ nation.
Libyan women wave their new flag during celebrations in the
streets of Tripoli following news of Muammar Gaddafi’s capture
and death on October 20, 2011. Muammar Gaddafi was killed on
October 20 as new regime forces crushed the last pocket of
resistance in his hometown Sirte, the National Transitional
Council said. AFP
British Prime Minister David Cameron also welcomed a chance for
Libya’s ‘democratic future’ as he remembered Gaddafi’s victims,
including those who died in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over the
Scottish town of Lockerbie.
Gaddafi’s death was “a major step forward in the battle fought for
more than eight months by the Libyan people to liberate themselves from
the dictatorial and violent regime imposed on them for more than 40
years,” said French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
“A new page is turning for the Libyan people, one of reconciliation
in unity and freedom.”
French, US and British forces spearheaded the air campaign against
Gaddafi’s military by the NATO military alliance, which has launched
nearly 1,000 strike sorties since March 31.
The transatlantic alliance said it would begin winding down its
six-month mission on Friday, as Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
invited the Libyan people to now ‘truly decide their own future.’
Muhammad al-Senussi, the heir apparent in Libya’s overthrown
monarchy, called for a display of unity from his people, while
acknowledging the ‘challenges’ that lie ahead. Now that Gaddafi is gone,
Egypt’s government expressed hope for a ‘new chapter’ in Libya and
pledged support in rebuilding the country.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki also welcomed the news of
Gaddafi’s death on Thursday, arguing his demise and that of former Iraqi
dictator Saddam Hussein were ‘proof of the potential of the people.’
UN chief Ban ki-Moon said the events in Libya ushered in a ‘historic
transition’ for the country.
“The road ahead for Libya and its people will be difficult and full
of challenges. Now is the time for all Libyans to come together,” he
said at UN headquarters.
In Italy, Libya’s former colonial ruler, Prime Minister Silvio
Berlusconi said “now the war is over.”
“Sic transit gloria mundi (thus passes the glory of the world),”
The Vatican’s number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, prayed for
“peace in the country and democracy.”
In Brussels, the European Union welcomed “the end of an era of
The news also means an end to the “repression from which the Libyan
people have suffered for too long,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said
in a joint statement with European Commission President Jose Manuel
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Libyans “can now look
to the future” after the end of a “tragic period.”
The current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, Poland, said
Gaddafi’s fate “should be a warning to other dictators in the region and
in the world.”
“We hope that his collaborators, wanted for crimes, will soon be
brought before the courts,” the foreign ministry added.
Families of the US victims of the Lockerbie bombing applauded the
Libyan people, but urged Libya’s new leaders to bring the other
perpetrators to justice.
Gaddafi was accused of ordering the bombing that killed 259 people on
the plane, most of them Americans, as well as 11 Scots on the ground.
The only person convicted, Libyan agent Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi,
was released by Scotland on compassionate grounds in 2009 after doctors
said he had three months to live. He returned to Libya.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Kadhafi’s death left the way
clear for a new, peaceful, political start, urging the country to move
swiftly toward democracy.
Two of the five Bulgarian nurses imprisoned in Libya for eight years
over an HIV scandal said Gaddafi “got what he deserved.”
“The news made me very happy. It’s a punishment. A dog like him
deserved to die like a dog,” Valya Chervenyashka told AFP. The nurses
were tortured and twice sentenced to death under Gaddafi’s regime.
Gaddafi was fatally wounded as new regime forces launched a final
assault on the last pocket of resistance in his hometown of Sirte, a
National Transitional Council spokesman said. AFP