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5 voices: After Gadhafi, then what?

By Kyle Almond, CNN
A boy watches soldiers walk past Sunday as his family explores Moammar Gadhafi's former headquarters in Tripoli.
A boy watches soldiers walk past Sunday as his family explores Moammar Gadhafi's former headquarters in Tripoli.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Experts describe what they think is the most pressing challenge facing a post-Gadhafi Libya
  • Many questions remain about the future of Islamic militias and how they will fit in
  • One Libyan resident is still concerned about everyday corruption and cronyism
  • Despite the turmoil, there appear to be signs that democracy can work in the country

(CNN) -- Moammar Gadhafi is no longer in power, but Libya's new leaders still have much work to do.

In addition to finding Gadhafi and bringing him to justice, the National Transitional Council faces many challenges as it tries to restore order to a nation scarred by civil war and 42 years of authoritarian rule.

A new government needs to be formed. Unemployment is sky-high. Basic services are lacking. But where to start?

CNN.com asked five people -- all very familiar with Libya's plight -- to explain what they think should be the priority. More specifically, we posed the following question: What do you think is the most pressing challenge facing post-Gadhafi Libya?

Quarterman: A political 'road map' is needed
Mark Quarterman is a senior adviser and director of the Program on Crisis, Conflict and Cooperation at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He worked for more than a decade at the United Nations, serving on international tribunals and investigations.

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Libyans have an enormous set of tasks ahead of them as they rebuild their country after months of fighting. Too many things need to be done at the same time.

But the primary issue at hand is Libya's political transition and consolidation. Libyans must achieve a political agreement, a way forward that enables them to channel their differences into politics and create a democratic, open society.

This cannot be achieved overnight. Successful transitions from authoritarian rule to democracy, however imperfect, take at least a decade, if not a generation. But the first steps are clear.

A national convention should be convened to enable tribal, regional and political representatives to devise a road map. It should determine the structure of the transitional authority, which must be broad-based. It should also agree to a process for drafting a constitution and establishing a timetable for elections -- presumably not sooner than a year from now.

The convention would not be the end of a process, but rather the beginning. It should usher in an era of consultation and communication. If Libya is successfully to transition from Gadhafi to a better future, the planning for that future must start now.

Martin: Root out everyday corruption
Therese Martin has lived in Libya since 1989 and is founder of the English Teachers' Forum. She also writes a personal blog under the pseudonym KhadijaTeri.

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To succeed, Libya needs to get over the corrupt ways of the past. Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break.

For over four decades, the country was run by Gadhafi, his associates and more recently his children. They played roles in more than just the political and military aspects of the country. They also had a hand in the everyday running of the infrastructure: communications, health care, education, business and so on.

Gadhafi and his family are gone, but how many of the corrupt old players are still in the game? Most of Gadhafi's cronies are deeply entrenched in the National Transitional Council as well as all the ministries. How many defected just to save themselves and continue playing their crooked games? Cronyism, I fear, will have a direct negative effect on Libya's future.

For the past 42 years, Libya has worked by a system called "wasta," or connections, where you would be unable to do the most basic things without having the right connections.

For example, students would get scholarships not based on their scholastic ability but on who they knew. Despite having no qualifications, people would get jobs simply because they were acquainted with the right person who could get them in. Companies were often forced to hire relatives of influential people.

Often, these "employees" would while away the day doing nothing -- or possibly not even show up to work at all and still collect their salaries. Some people became so adept at this scheme that they would be on multiple payrolls and never show up for a day's work anywhere.

"Wasta" filtered its way through all facets of Libyan life. If you didn't have the right "wasta," you could just forget it.

If Libyans want their country to succeed, corruption needs to be dealt with and Libyan citizens will need to get things done on their own merit.

Negus: What about the militias?
Steve Negus is a journalist and commentator who has worked in the Arab world for 15 years. He contributes to The Arabist as well as his personal blog, Flight of the Silawa.

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The biggest challenge faced by Libya's new rulers is likely to be asserting civilian control over the rebel fighters.

Most towns had at least one independent militia. Some had dozens. In theory, all the militias recognized the authority of the National Transitional Council. But in practice, they often did as they wished.

During the war, there were many advantages to this decentralization. Each region of the country felt that it was freeing itself from Gadhafi's rule, so there was less resentment of outsiders. Whenever a city fell to the rebels, local fighters secured the streets so you didn't have a power vacuum and looting like we saw in Iraq. Decentralization is also probably better for the future of Libyan democracy than a centralized "liberation front" that believes it deserves to run the country in perpetuity.

Libya opposition less willing to give up

However, there were always tensions between the NTC and the fighters under the surface, and these differences might become more visible now that the external threat from Gadhafi has been reduced.

Some militia leaders have recently attacked NTC members for sitting in Benghazi while others fought, or for having ties to the Gadhafi regime. These might be sincere criticisms, but commanders might also be trying to weaken the NTC's legitimacy to pre-empt any crackdown on their autonomy.

Some militias probably collect "war taxes." Others might have confiscated government property. Many have been running their own prisons. All the militias seem attached to their weapons. They claim they want to end the war and disband, disarm and go back to their old jobs, but some might be very happy with the status quo.

Throughout the war, the NTC has tried pretty hard to avoid playing power games with militias. But now that it's a becoming a full-fledged national government, it might need to assert its authority.

Ashour: Disarm, reintegrate Islamists
Omar Ashour is the director of the Middle East Graduate Studies Program at the University of Exeter's Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. He is also a visiting scholar at the Brookings Doha Centre who authored "The De-Radicalization of Jihadists: Transforming Armed Islamist Movements."

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called on Libya's new leaders to abandon any ties with "violent extremism."

But a civil war to oust armed Islamist organizations would be as disastrous for Libyans and their neighbors as the Algerian civil war was in the 1990s. To escape that scenario, Libya needs to go through a successful process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration while also getting Islamists involved in the democratic process.

Reintegration in the military and security apparatuses and other state bureaucracies will depend on the size and contributions of the armed Islamist militias, and, of course, the political will and calculations of Libya's National Transitional Council. The experience of South Africa and its reintegration of African National Congress fighters can provide some useful lessons.

But this trajectory might be problematic for the NTC's Western partners as well as for security and intelligence personnel who will have to deal with the former "terrorists" as colleagues. Also, many of the Libyan fighters I have spoken to are likely to refuse joining a state bureaucracy.

Reintegration should go hand in hand with political inclusion. Successful transformation from a militia to a political party will be critical at this point. But this can also face some hurdles. Among those is the willingness of the mid-rank and grassroots Islamists to participate in a democratic process. They've been indoctrinated for decades that democracy is inherently anti-Islamic.

But signs of successful Jihadist transformation come from neighboring Egypt. The Islamic Group, a much larger armed Islamist organization whose leaders authored a large section of anti-democratic literature, successfully dismantled its armed wing and finally formed a political party. This can be a model to follow.

St John: 'Optimistic' signs for democracy
Ronald Bruce St John is the author of five books on Libya, including "Libya: Continuity and Change."

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Immediate concerns might center on post-conflict security, but the greater challenge is to draft a constitution, hold free and fair elections and form a new representative government that is responsive to the wishes of the Libyan people.

From the outset of the February 17th Revolution, these have been the core demands of the rebel rank-and-file, and the National Transitional Council has embraced these goals and worked to keep them at the forefront of policy deliberations.

Libya is a relatively homogenous society in terms of ethnicity, language and religion, and this will ease the transition to a more democratic form of government. Regionalism is still present, but significant levels of national identity have developed over the past four decades.

The importance of tribalism has also declined. The tribes remain a significant part of socioeconomic and political life in Libya, but the divide-and-rule tactics employed by Gadhafi accorded them an importance that does not reflect contemporary reality.

One especially positive development has been the spontaneous formation of popular committees managing local government functions in some liberated areas.

For a country with no democratic institutions or civil society, the path to representative, responsive government will be difficult. But there is every reason to be optimistic.

Part of complete coverage on
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Moammar Gadhafi no longer has his Tripoli compound or his power apparatus. He is a fallen leader and a fugitive
A glimpse into the Gadhafi family
The Gadhafi family -- a large, at times quarrelsome clan that helped the embattled strongman hold onto power
CIA, Gadhafi spy ties revealed
Seized documents revealed a close relationship between the CIA and counterparts in the Gadhafi regime
Gadhafi nurse on life with 'Daddy'
Oksana Balinskaya served as one of Gadhafi's five Ukrainian nurses for nearly two years
Libya's other wealth
Archaeological treasures can be found all over the country, and UNESCO is worried
Ex-jihadist at heart of revolution
Abdul Hakeem Belhaj, who once fought with al Qaeda, is now commander of anti-Gadhafi forces in Tripoli
Real challenge may lie ahead
Former CIA director Michael Hayden says building a stable new regime could be as difficult as ousting Gadhafi
 
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