The death of Moammar Gadhafi marks the end of a terrible chapter in Libya’s history. For more than 40 years Gadhafi ruled Libya with an iron fist, violently punishing all who dared to oppose him.
Now, with Gadhafi gone, Libya faces a hopeful, if somewhat uncertain future. It is important that people give Libya time to figure out the way forward. Libya’s recent history is not of democracy or the impartial rule of law. After more than 40 years where the law was at the whims of one man, the North African nation was unable to build up the necessary institutions and organizations required for a quick transition.
This means that the world must be patient with Libya as they try to form a government that responds to the wishes of their people. The Libyan people showed amazing bravery and courage facing down a dictator. With the help of NATO, including members of Canada’s armed forces, Gadhafi never stood a chance once the people of Libya decided they had enough. The Libyan people will need their courage once again to build a free and open society.
It is easy to forget that the formation of a stable democracy is not a quick process. The United States, the world’s most powerful democracy, underwent a massive civil war that divided its people and resulted in over 600,000 deaths.
Thinking of the violence in Libya as the people of that nation overthrew their regime, I was reminded how lucky we are to live in this country. Politics in democracies are a form of managed and peaceful revolution. People often complain about negative ads and negative campaigning, and it’s easy to forget that in many countries power is transferred through violence, not consent. The losers of power struggles in Canada return to their previous occupations. The losers of power struggles in other parts of the world often lose their lives.
The people of Libya now have the opportunity to build a new nation from the ground up. The path ahead will be unsteady, and there will definitely be ups and downs. But if the democracies that helped free Libya are able to help with the transition to a free society, Libya’s future could be very bright indeed.
Spencer Fernando is the Comment Editor for the Manitoban.