Libyans describe themselves as a patient people, who have waited 42 years for a chance at self-determination. But they are getting tired of waiting.
“We are very worried; they are not telling us anything,” said Nazih Aradi, 31, a businessman who, like many Libyans, has jumped into the world of civil-society-building — he and some friends recently formed a nongovernmental organization to demand government transparency. “If they don’t give us the names, we can’t start building the country — and even when they mention the names, that is not enough. We need to know what are the projects, what is going to happen the first month, the second month.”
The murkiness now plaguing the council follows months of intrigue and behind-the-scenes jockeying. The council’s executive committee, a cabinet of about a dozen decision-makers, was disbanded two months ago after the still-unsolved killing of the rebels’ military chief of staff, Abdul Fattah Younis. But a new cabinet was never named, and the old members continued in their posts as anti-Gaddafi forces moved into Tripoli.
Once the country is officially liberated, the council is charged with selecting a prime minister, who will appoint an interim cabinet. That cabinet will have eight months to prepare for the election of a national assembly, which will be Libya’s first legitimately elected body. The assembly, which will replace the Transitional National Council, will appoint a committee to draw up a constitution and move the country toward further elections.
But with holdout areas still fighting on the side of former leader Moammar Gaddafi, liberation has not yet been declared.
In the meantime, the council has been pressured by groups pushing for positions. Fingers are pointed at figures seen as having been too close to the Gaddafi regime. Cities and towns in Libya’s newly liberated west — especially those like Misurata and Zintan that believe their fighters helped turn the battle in the rebels’ favor — are pushing for more representation in the government’s top ranks.
The council’s de facto prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, has become a divisive figure. Although many Libyans still support him, even some of his supporters bristled this month when he proposed 36 names for a new cabinet, including friends and relatives, and retained the prime minister and foreign minister slots for himself. Although he backed off the proposal when council members objected, it left a bitter taste, said a council official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the topic.