As a Libyan, never have I been more proud of my country. Wait a second, no, that was last year. During the revolution that overthrew ruthless dictator Muammar Gaddafi and his murderous regime, Libyans across the globe united in accomplishing a goal once believed unimaginable. Libyans never before had a reason to be proud of their country. I myself used to say I was Canadian to avoid the inevitable routine conversation:
‘Where are you from?’
‘Oh. Where’s that?’
‘It’s next to Egypt.’
Now picture having that same conversation nearly every time you introduce yourself to someone. It was even worse when they knew where it was because it always led down the same path.
‘Oh, Gaddafi, right?’
Yup. Gaddafi. Unfortunately Libya didn’t have an identity of its own. It was always mingled with the rich history of our very own pop diva. So it was great when the revolution kicked off and Libyans were becoming well-known for their bravery rather than their narcissistic, self-titled Brother Leader. Libyans grew from being ashamed of their rich heritage to being more proud than ever. Its a shame that since the success of the revolution, things didn’t stay the same.
There was great hope on the 23rd of October, when Mustafa Abdu-Jalil officially declared the end of the February 17th Revolution and the liberation of Libya. The National Transitional Council was going to move to the capital and become the interim government for several months before hosting elections for Libya’s first democratically elected Parliament. The country was on a high and the momentum pushing for progress was immense.
The day Libyans voted for the first time is a day I’ll never forget. Never have I seen the people there so excited, so enthusiastic and so happy. Hope was bright in their eyes, pride strong in their hearts.
Fast forward nine months later. The interim government was still in charge. The Prime Minister chosen by the NTC, Abdurrahim al-Kieb, was useless, having achieved nothing since taking office. Nobody knew what he was doing, never even making a public appearance and addressing the nation. He had no initiative nor direction. He was no visionary and not what the country needed at such a crucial time. The momentum that drove the revolution and was so strong on the day of liberation had evaporated to a puddle that would barely get your shoes wet. The streets were dirty, the people were frustrated and trouble on the streets were on a high. The sounds of gunshots echoing into the nights were frequent and a common occurrence. It wasn’t so bad considering the amount of guns available to the nation. It definitely could have been a lot worse. But it also could have been much better if handled efficiently by a qualified Prime Minister and cabinet. There was still some hope though. The first democratic vote in over 42 years was just around the corner.
The day Libyans voted for the first time is a day I’ll never forget. Never have I seen the people there so excited, so enthusiastic and so happy. Hope was bright in their eyes, pride strong in their hearts. I remember seeing a young man leave the school where voting was held in the district, his index finger blue, a wide grin on his face, reenter the line to vote again. An older man in front of him asked him why he was getting in line once more. The younger man replied excitedly ‘To vote again!’ Sure they had to explain to him how the voting process worked and he walked away somewhat deflated but hell, that kind of enthusiasm is priceless. Finally after all this time in Limbo, some progress was being made.
Barely a month after Mustafa Abushagor was elected Prime Minister, the Parliament sat down and decided to move backwards and held a vote of no confidence. Personally, I wasn’t happy with the choice of Abushagor for Prime Minister but the motives behind his removal were shady. It was very undemocratic and a result of personal politics. Because his choice of cabinet wasn’t in accordance with individuals in the Parliament’s personal interests, they decided to throw him out. What a way to kick off our first democratically elected Prime Minister’s term. Luckily enough, the replacement was a good choice. He’s actually an old friend of mine’s uncle, exiled from Libya in the 70’s and a human rights lawyer. Hopefully he’ll be able to stop the ridiculous amount of human rights violations occurring in Libya every day. This might signify the end of the country’s perpetual state of transition.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Youth’s editorial policy.