The National Transition Council (NTC) is emerging as the centre to which the world, via the UN and the unfreezing of its foreign assets, is conferring legitimacy and power.
The NTC is headed by Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the justice minister who escaped from the Gaddafi government and organised the protests in Benghazi which grew into a violent revolution. The NTC comprises about 30 human rights lawyers and Jalil has shown leadership by insisting that he be tried for his part in the Gaddafi regime as well as threatening to resign if any of the 40 rebel forces (katibas) engage in revenge attacks.
After being in Benghazi since the start of the revolution the NTC are beginning to move into the capital, Tripoli and only a few centres of resistance remain (Sirte, Bani Walid, Jufra and Sabha). How long they keep fighting depends, possibly, on how much they trust their enemies to treat them humanely.
What are the chances of a stable representative government with law and order prevailing once military conquest is decisive enough to make this tenable?
Proposed timescale for establishing a new government.
The following times are taken from whatever date the NTC declares victory.
- 30 days – interim government formed by negotiation within this period.
- 8 months – multi-party elections.
- 20 months – by when a new constitution is to be agreed.
Causes for hope:
- The NTC was appointed in consultation with tribal and revolutionary leaders.
- The old army, police and civil service are to be kept on. Police are already returning to their posts in large numbers. (This avoids a major mistake made in Iraq, where these sources of order and administration were cast out onto the streets.)
Causes for concern:
If an Islamic form of a democracy can be achieved this would be a model for other countries in Africa and the Middle East, although there could be a high price to pay in human suffering if the existing monarchs and dictators are to be disposed.
On the other hand, it is possible that the groundswell of pressure for change from the world as a whole and the majority of people living in these countries could be so large, that their rulers would flee without resistance or seek a stake in a political system which they can see is inevitable.
Let us pray.
Main sources: Economist, BBC website, BBC World Service
Author, 2077 AD