Libya Declares Liberation From 42-Year Gadhafi Rule

Posted October 23rd, 2011 at 9:45 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Libya's provisional leaders have declared the country liberated from the 42-year rule of Moammar Gadhafi, at a ceremony attended by tens of thousands of people in the eastern city of Benghazi.

National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil told the crowd Sunday that Islamic law will shape the new constitution in post-Gadhafi Libya. He promised that Islamic banks will be established and restrictions lifted on the number of wives Libyan men can take.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the formal declaration of Libya's liberation a “historical juncture” after decades of dictatorship. In a statement Sunday, Mr. Ban stressed U.N. support for the NTC's moves to form a new interim government and hold elections.

Libya's outgoing provisional prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, said consultations are under way to form a new interim government within one month, followed by elections for a constitutional assembly within eight months. Parliamentary and presidential elections would be held within a year after that.

Jibril was speaking on the sidelines of an economic forum in Jordan, where he also announced his resignation to allow new leaders to oversee Libya's transition to democracy.

In Benghazi, jubilant citizens filled the central square, waving the red, black and green Libyan flag of the monarchy that Gadhafi overthrew in a 1969 coup. Benghazi was the hub of the anti-Gadhafi uprising that began in February and ended when he was killed Thursday as provisional government forces defeated the former leader's die-hard loyalists in his hometown of Sirte.

International concern about the circumstances of Gadhafi's death contrasted sharply with the celebratory mood inside Libya. Rights groups have called for an investigation into cellphone video that shows provisional government fighters taunting and beating a wounded Gadhafi shortly before he died.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that Washington would like to see a U.N. investigation of the killing and supports the investigation that Libya's NTC has pledged to conduct. Clinton said it is important for a democratic Libya to begin with the rule of law and accountability.

British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said Gadhafi's killing had “stained” the image of Libya's provisional government. He said Britain would have liked to see the former leader stand trial for alleged misdeeds.

Libyan doctors performed an autopsy on Gadhafi's body in the city of Misrata Sunday and said he died of gunshot wounds to the head and abdomen. Libyan officials say the former leader was shot in a crossfire between his loyalists and provisional government forces. Fighters on the scene have acknowledged beating the ousted leader after his capture.

Gadhafi's body remained on public display in a commercial freezer in Misrata Sunday. Details of his burial have not been disclosed.