23 October 2011

Libya: PM Plans New Constitution, Interim Govt in 8 Months

Photo: Nkosana Dlamini
File photo: Libyans celebrate Gaddafi's fall in Zimbabwe

With the death of Muammar Ghaddafi during a NATO-led airstrike to capture Sirte, his hometown, Libyans yesterday began to chart a future for their country after a 42-years reign of the late maximum leader.

Prime Minister Mahm-oud Jibril unfolded plans for elections, within eight months, of a national council to draft a new constitution and for the formation of an interim national government.

The country's National Transitional Council plans to declare the full "liberation" of Libya today after the killing of Ghaddafi by fighters in Sirte. Jibril has said he plans to resign after liberation.

"After the death of Ghaddafi last week, the priority is now on removing weapons from Libya's streets, restoring stability and initiating a process of national reconciliation," Jibril said at a World Economic Forum in Jordan.

He said: "The first election should take place within a period of eight months, maximum, to constitute a national congress of Libya, some sort of parliament.

"This national congress would have two tasks - draft a constitution, on which we would have a referendum, and the second to form an interim government to last until the first presidential elections are held."

Ghaddafi's death, which Jibril said left him feeling "relieved and reborn", achieved the main goal that united the rag-tag militias and army battalions that have battled his forces since an uprising began in February.

Stability will require the NTC - which comprised secular liberals, Islamists and tribal elders - to prove a willingness to compromise, a quality that was anathema under Ghaddafi's system of one-man rule.

Meanwhile, Ghaddafi's relatives have demanded a chance to bury his body that has been lying on display in a meat locker since Friday.

In a statement on a Syria-based pro- Ghaddafi television station, the ousted dictator's family asked for the bodies of Ghaddafi, his son, Muatassim and others who were killed Thursday.

"We call on the UN, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and Amnesty International to force the Transitional Council to hand over the martyrs' bodies to our tribe in Sirte and to allow them to perform their burial ceremony in accordance with Islamic customs and rules," the statement said.

Ghaddafi's blood-streaked body has been put on display in a commercial freezer at a shopping centre in Misrata as Libyan authorities argued about where to bury the remains.

Fighters from Misrata - a city brutally besieged by Ghaddafi's forces during the civil war - seemed to claim ownership of it, forcing the delay of a planned burial Friday.

Fathi Bashagha, a spokesman for the Misrata military council, said a decision would be made on his burial later and ruled out a full autopsy unless demanded by an international committee or the transitional government, "and so far there have been no requests."

At least, four groups of doctors have examined the body and determined the cause of death was a bullet to the head and stomach, Bashagha said.

"As far as we are concerned in Misrata, doctors have checked him and determined how he died, so there is no need to cut his body up," he said.

The bloody siege of Misrata over the summer instilled a particularly virulent hatred of Ghaddafi there - hatred now mixed with pride because he was captured and killed by fighters from Libya's third-largest city.

Residents crowded into long lines to get a chance to view the body of Ghaddafi, which was laid out on a mattress on the floor of an emptied-out vegetable and onion freezer.

Men, women and children filed in to take their picture with the body, with some chanting "We want to see the dog."

The site's guards had even organised separate visiting hours for families and single men.

Ghaddafi's 69-year-old body was stripped to the waist, his torso and arms streaked with dried blood. Bullet wounds in the chest, abdomen and left side of the head were visible.

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