Restoring peace in Libya

Tyranny has fallen at the hands of young freedom fighters and Libyans rejoice the death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. After eight months of civil war, the National Transitional Council (NTC) now faces the task of restoring peace to the country and organising its first democratic election. But the task is not easy. With oil production down and the cost of war threatening to disarm its economy, Libya’s future is uncertain. Story by AMANDA PARKINSON.

When protests broke out in Benghazi between February and April this year the world saw oil prices reach a four-year high, rising 35 per cent. Libya was only producing 2 per cent of the world’s oil, but as civil unrest escalated prices increased internationally. Producing rare crude that can be refined as either petroleum or diesel gives Libya’s oil a higher market value. During the war Libyan oil production dropped from 1.6 million barrels per day to 390,000 barrels per day. In a knee-jerk reaction a group of oil importing nations announced the release of 60 million barrels of oil from emergency stocks to float the industry.

As rebel forces closed in on Gaddafi’s home city of Sirte, oil dropped 81 cents per barrel and returned to pre-protest prices. But with an infant government, and no parliament or constitution, instability will hinder Libya’s return to the world market. Oil-field workers were expected to return to work in the week after Gaddafi’s death, but an analysis from The Economist said: ‘oil production in Libya won’t return to capacity till mid 2012.’

As the country regains a steady income, the NTC must begin to restore stability. Under the laws drawn up by the revolutionary forces, the fall of Sirte will result in Libya officially declaring liberation. Following liberation the NTC will form a transitional government within 30 days, 200 members of the national conference will be elected within 240 days of which a Prime Minister will be appointed and their government nominated.

 A coalition of Western countries has offered support as Libya hopes for a democratic future. Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd said, “it will be complex, but we will stand ready to help our friends in Libya to ensure they reach their democratic needs.”

US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton announced in a press conference after Gaddafi’s death that the Obama administration would pledge US$40 million to destroy left over weapons caches. “Washington will work with Libya to destroy chemical weapon stocks, as the two administrations are committed to stay focused on the oil-rich country’s security,” she said.

NATO announced plans to withdraw from Libya by the October 31. The news came as fights broke out in Tripoli between Gaddafi loyalists and rebels. Locals in Tripoli were angered over looting and corruption. In the capital multiple checkpoints were set up but their deregulation meant guards were forcing locals to pay bribes in order to pass. In areas with a high number of rapes and abductions, those manning the check points were former prisoners of the Gaddafi regime.

The NTC will soon begin the road to building a democratic future for Libya. Libyan rebels said on Twitter: “We have no political structure, we waited 42 years and now we can all rebuild Libya together.” A Libyan father, @BentBenghazi, tweeted his family were relieved the struggle was over: “So many stressful days and nights wondering if our son would come home alive, so grateful to know he will be here soon.”

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