On July 7, Libyans voted in the country’s first parliamentary elections in over forty years, selecting 200 members for the General National Congress (GNC) to replace the National Transitional Council which has been ruling since the overthrow of Qaddafi’s regime last fall. To examine the significance of this election and the challenges confronting Libya and the newly-elected GNC, the Carnegie Middle East Center hosted a discussion with Dr. Ahmed Jehani, head of the Libyan Development Policy Center and former chairman of Libya’s transitional Stabilization Team. Carnegie’s Paul Salem moderated the event.
In the months between Qaddafi’s fall and the July elections, Libya was a lawless country, Jehani argued. The transitional government was largely ineffective, delivery systems for public goods were broken down, and armed militia groups exerted violent strength without fear of punishment. Although a basic level of societal cohesiveness prevented Libya from resembling other war-torn African neighbours, Jehani explained that the general chaos provided an opportunity for some to take revenge and settle scores.
National elections offered the only way to escape a situation where Libya was increasingly showing symptoms of a failed state, Jehani maintained. Given the longevity of the Qaddafi regime, he compared Libyans reactions to the elections as a child’s response to a new toy–full of curiosity. Between Jbril’s liberal coalition, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Watan, a ground swell of previously unrealized political sentiment arose within the population, he added.
Having successfully held and tallied results from the parliamentary elections and earning the acclaim of several international governing bodies, Jehani emphasized that many serious challenges lie ahead for the newly-announced GNC.
Enter your email address to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!
You are leaving the website for the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy and entering a website for another of Carnegie's global centers.