With the successful holding of elections earlier this month, the Libyan people are on their way toward the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in the North African country, a top United Nations official said yesterday, adding that the country must now agree on the formation of a new government and on the process for drawing up a new constitution.
Briefing the Security Council, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Ian Martin, noted that the spirit of democracy was displayed during the 7 July National Congress election in a manner which deeply impressed all observers.
“Libyan men and women, young and old, amassed in queues at polling centres to cast their votes, and then displayed their inked fingers with the pride and emotion of people who had so long been denied democratic freedoms, many of whose families had suffered and sacrificed loved ones for the right they were at last able to exercise,” Martin said.
“Where violence threatened the poll, it was the determination and the courage of the voters themselves which successfully resisted it,” he added.
The envoy also noted that the organization of the polls was an “extraordinary accomplishment,” considering the country’s lack of electoral experience and a hugely demanding timetable.
“This will be the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in Libya,” he said. “Its new political leaders must then reach agreement on the formation of a new government, and on the process for drawing up a new constitution.”
Libya’s interim Government is expected to remain in office until the new government is formed, and is preparing a smooth handover. “New ministers will begin with a better legacy than the institutional void which greeted their predecessors. But there is no underestimating the challenges and the expectations which the new government will face,” said Mr. Martin.
Foremost among these challenges is security, he stated, noting that Libyans want the rule of law to prevail, in a weapons-free environment, where police respond to crimes, and only state authorities arrest and detain suspects.
Closely related to the issue of security is that of justice, where “progress has been disappointing, and a new government must bring stronger efforts,” said the envoy.
He added that, along with security and justice, Libya faces the challenges of developing the institutions of a modern State, diversifying the economy and creating jobs, fighting corruption and respecting human rights.
“The successful election has further enhanced expectations, but these are tasks which will extend far beyond the term of the next government,” Martin stated.