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Could Libya really have democratic and transparent elections?

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If Libyans really go to the polls as planned, on 24 December, it will be a moment of history-making and a new reality in the conflict ravaged country. The North African country never had a president before, let alone running one in which the president is directly elected by the people. After independence in 1951, the country became a kingdom led by King Idris I, until he was overthrown by the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 1969, making Libya a Republic.

Furthermore, if the outcome of the election is universally accepted by all political actors in the fractured country, then the process of democratic elections would mark the first serious attempt to finally start another more important process – the beginning of conflict resolution and state building after a long decade of political feuds and armed struggle.

Elections have always been the most unifying wish for the majority of Libyans who have paid a heavy price throughout the country during the last ten years.

Right after the former regime was toppled by the armed rebellion, heavily supported by outside powers, including NATO in 2011, Libyans had a golden opportunity to settle their differences and reconcile before any elections. Instead, under pressure from Western powers, parliamentary elections were held and the country rushed to elections in 2012: the West wanted to show that overthrowing Gaddafi was a worthy cause. The polls took place in a fractured society, dominated by tribes and dysfunctional political elite, most of whom were exiles and refugees who have never seen Libya for decades during the Gaddafi era. No reconciliation process ever took place and a sense of revenge and score settling........

© Middle East Monitor

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