LETTER FROM THE EDITOR – MARCH 2014

Although Prime Minister Ali Zeidan would have us believe differently, Libya is in a perilous situation. Thousands took to the streets in February to voice their opposition against a decision by the interim GNC to ex- tend its 18-month mandate that expired last month.

The General National Congress (GNC) was elected in 2012 to set things in motion for a general election. Clearly, this has not happened, now many Libyans have lost patience and want a clean sweep.

Since dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s four- decade rule ended in February 2011 the country has been in turmoil. There is an increasing power struggle among militias who fought against Gaddafi during the uprising that shows no sign of abating. The former rebels refuse to lay down their arms, despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order. Meanwhile, a variety of extremist groups watch the situation with interest. Fearful of a political vacuum emerging, Major General Khalifa Haftar, a leading figure in the 2011 revolution against Muammar Gaddafi, has called for a presidential committee to be formed to govern until new elections can be held.

While there is sufficient rhetoric and sabre rattling between the various factions to make your eyes water, there is precious little going on between them to negotiate a united resolution that might save them and their six million Libyan countrymen from further violent upheaval.

A friend of mine has a small flat in a three- storey block in the South of France. When the time came to repaint the outside of the block, residents were asked to make their first and second colour choice between three on offer. The vote showed them evenly divided; exactly half opted for pale pink as their first choice, the other half selected a cool sandy yellow. Residents were invited to meet again, talk through their choice and re-vote. But by now, positions had become entrenched, those who wanted pink, did not want yellow at any price, while those in the yellow camp would not countenance pink. The vote was re-cast and the result was exactly the same, 50% went pink and 50% yellow. Consequently the decision went with everybody’s second choice, with the result that the beautiful, Côte d’Azur building is now painted what might best be described as fecal brown. Nobody got what they wanted, everybody got what they didn’t.

If Libyan leaders do not put their political heads together soon, they will find themselves in a similar situation. If the people able to use their influence for the greater good, rather than personal gain, refuse to do so, they will find those powers taken out of their hands by groups presenting far less attractive options.

And then, like my friend in France, everyone will end up living in The fecal brown.

Pat Lancaster, Editor