With an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometres (700,000 sq mi), and the 10th largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world, Libya stands out to be the fourth largest country in Africa and the sixteenth in the world. Decades after the military coup that overthrew king Idris I in 1969 by Muammar Gaddafi, Libya experience a sound social reform that contributed heavily to it economic and political stability from 1969-2011. With a population of 6,411,776 as of 2015, Libya, under General Muammar Gaddafi, experienced the highest Human Development Index in Africa, from 1977 onward, which was achieved without borrowings. Also, per capital income in the country rose to US $11,000. This success is sorely attributed to revenues from the oil sector, which accounts for 80% of GDP and 97% of exports. However, apart from petroleum Libya also depend on other natural resources such as natural gas and gypsum. After the 60% plunge of the economy in 2011, as a result of the civil war that took the country unaware, the International Monetary Fund estimated the nation’s real GDP growth at 122% in 2012 and 16.7% in 2013.
These figures led the World Bank to define Libya as an ‘upper Middle Income Economy’, which later on became the nation of greener pastures for many across Africa. The causal relationship that exists between the population and the revenues from the energy sector placed Libya as the highest per capital GDP in Africa.
While Gaddafi was in command healthcare facilities accounted for 3.88% of the country’s GDP in 2010 and life expectancy at birth was 74.95 years in 2011 – 72.44 years for males and 77.59 years for females – with basic education being free for all citizens.
Gaddafi in Africa also stands out to be a symbol of unity and peace, after his continued pursuit for the establishment of the United States of Africa and his decision to abandon the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
However, the post-Gaddafi era in Libya has not ran smoothly since the end of the crisis and the last of the heavy fighting during the uprising. At least 30,000 Libyans lost their lives during the civil war. The aftermath of the Libyan civil war has spawned a relatively weak central government that is unable to effectively exert its authority over its country. It also does not help that competing militias have pitted themselves against each other in a political struggle between Islamist politicians and their opponents. After the National Transitional council officially handed power to the wholly elected General National Congress for the formation of an interim government and the drafting of a new Libyan constitution to be approved in a general referendum, there has since then been a series of disagreements, riots, and violent conflict between the Tobruk and the Tripoli-based factions.
Since August 25th 2012, Libya has experienced several attacks, turning the face of the country from an African paradise to hell.
The tribal militias and the jihadist groups have leveraged Libya’s state of uncertainty to perpetrate all forms of evil. The most blatant sectarian attack since the end of the civil war occurred when a group of unnamed assailants bulldozed a Sufi mosque during broad day light in Tripoli. Next on the list is the Islamist Militants surprise attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, killing the US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens along with many others.
These attacks have had detrimental consequences on the Libyan political, economic and social sphere that were instilled by General Gaddafi prior to his death. Currently in Libya, two political bodies claim to be the government: the Council of Deputies which is recognised by the International community as the legitimate government and the General National Congress which purports to be the legal continuation of the General National Congress election in 2012. In addition, since this period of instability and violence, the United Nations, in 2015, decided to sponsor peace talks between the Tobruk and the Tripoli based factions by sending Spanish diplomat Bernardino Leon, a Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), to enhance peace dialogue in collaboration with the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Mr Leon in his report to the UN security Council stated that:
“Libya is at a critical stage” and that “only through dialogue and political compromise, can a peaceful resolution of the conflict be achieved.
A peaceful transition will only succeed in Libya through a significant and coordinated effort in supporting a future Government of National Accord….”
It was only after the UN’s continuous effort in the area that an agreement was reached to set up a nine-member Presidency council and a 17 member interim Government of National Accord. New elections are to be held within two years with the leaders of the new government being baptized as the Government of National Accord in Tripoli on April 5 2016. With the unstoppable effects of the war, Libya has experienced a huge outflow of refugees and migrants to other countries in search of peace and stability. But the great question will be to know with certainty if Libya will be able to be the paradise of Africa after being hit by the civil war in 2011. The experiences of Syria, Iraq and other Middle East countries that have endured turmoil transforms the general view for future peace, stability and security in those regions. Will the Libya regret the absence of Gaddafi forever?
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