World Bulletin / News Desk
Reconciliation between Libya’s myriad political factions will be key to building a viable democratic state, Mustafa El Sagezli, general manager of the Libyan Program for Reintegration and Development (LPRD), said Friday.
"We will not lose hope for our country," El Sagezli, who formerly served as deputy interior minister in Libya’s post-uprising transitional government, told Anadolu Agency.
"Libya is rich in resources and has a young population," he said.
El Sagezli made the remarks on the sixth anniversary of Libya’s bloody 2011 uprising, which eventually led to the ouster and death of longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
El Sagezli’s LPRD is an NGO devoted to ending Libya’s internal conflicts and fostering reconciliation between the country’s warring political camps.
Following the uprising in 2011, Libya’s stark political divisions yielded two rival seats of government -- one in Tobruk and the other in Tripoli -- each of which boasted its own legislative assembly and military capacity.
In an effort to resolve the ensuing political standoff, the rival governments signed a UN-backed agreement in late 2015 calling for a government of national unity.
"The uprising erupted after the people lost hope for reform and a better life under the Gaddafi regime," El Sagezli said.
"We wanted freedom, justice and prosperity for our people and country, the resources of which were mismanaged under Gaddafi," he added.
He went on to note that Libya had held three democratic elections since the regime fell six years ago.
"We elected members of the General National Congress (GNC) and in 2012 and 2013 we had a government; things were improving," he said, adding that Libyans had begun to enjoy higher standards of living at this time.
But according to El Sagezli, the country’s rehabilitation was disrupted in 2014, when Khalifa Haftar, a former general under Gaddafi, staged what he described as a "coup d’état".
The resultant conflict, El Sagezli lamented, "served to divide the people and country ".
The rebuilding process, he went on to note, had faced difficulties from the outset, with newly-established state bodies inheriting a "failed state and failed institutions" from Gaddafi.
Libya’s internal conflict continued to escalate, with the country divided between the Tripoli-based GNC and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives supported by Haftar’s military forces.
"There was open conflict between Hafter and revolutionary groups, which was aggravated by the rift between Tripoli and Tobruk," El Sagezli said.
"We must now work for reconciliation and unite with a view to laying out a plan for state building," he added.
According to Elsagezli, Libya’s state institutions -- including the military and security apparatuses -- must be reformed while the country’s armed groups are disarmed and reintegrated into society.
"We face many challenges, but at some point we will achieve national unity," he said, calling for the international community’s support in rebuilding the country.
"We aren’t divided by nature; we aren’t prone to sectarian or religious conflict," he said.
El Sagezli also pointed out that some 95 percent of the Libyan economy under Gaddafi had been controlled by the state, going on to call for the development of the local private sector.
Following the 2011 uprising, the economy was not reformed to create job opportunities for Libyan youth "so that they might lay down their arms and enter the workforce", El Sagezli said.
"We want a democratic civil state with economic development and prosperity for our people," he concluded. "We don’t want to be ruled by a military dictator or by extremist militias or terrorist groups."
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