READERS’ VIEWS, JANUARY 2014

In contrast to the altruism of the young men and women of the early days of the uprising in Libya, the political opportunism of the mini-Gadaffis who have emerged since, jostling and scrambling for whatever spoils and windfalls they

can get their hands on, is utterly shameful. These opportunists have succeeded in warping the revolution in many Libyans’ minds, particularly the young.

The Libyan uprising took place in a context that lacked pre-existing civic and political institutions. The National Transitional Council (NTC) and its successor, the General National Congress (GNC), paid scant attention to the need to develop and coalesce such institutions. The absence of administrative continuity provided by a functioning bureaucracy was a major obstacle to the same smooth transition witnessed by other societies, such as those of Eastern Europe after the fall of communism, or even Tunisia after the fall of Ben Ali. This was perhaps one of the most serious setbacks Libya experienced in the early aftermath of the fall of Gaddafi.

During the Gaddafi era, Libya had an elaborate and complex bureaucratic structure with new organisations being superimposed upon existing institutions. The result was parallel and overlapping structures, with unclear lines of authority and responsibility that often caused intense competition and rivalry within the government, allowing Gaddafi to be the sole arbiter of minute details at the national and sub-national level. The post-uprising period has simply replaced one of the layers, that is, the “Revolutionary Committees” with another, the “Althuwar/ revolutionaries”. More ominously, the men with the guns have replaced Gaddafi as the new arbiters.

Even more disastrous for Libya has been the passing at gunpoint of the exclusion law. This prohibits from office anyone who served in a senior post during the 42 year rule of Gaddafi, thus depriving the country of anyone with even the most basic decision making skills.

The concept of “Althuwar/revolutionaries” acquiring experience in how to manage affairs of state by on the job training in senior positions, including cabinet posts, has led to the bizarre situation of a whole country being run by novices and interns. Meanwhile, unaccountable warlord puppeteers continue to pull the strings and direct their proxies in government in much the same way Gaddafi did, resulting in the perpetuation of the worst features of Gaddafism, without Gadaffi.

Abdullah Elmaazi