He is part of a growing number of revolutionaries who feel let down by their new government, so much that some are ready to give up on Libya. They say the TNC’s processes are opaque, its members are tainted by associations with the past regime and its leaders have been making decisions without communicating with the public.
“We wanted them to take us to the other side of the river,” said Abdelsalam, who moved from Benghazi to Tripoli in August to help run a charity. “But when we got here to Tripoli, we see the TNC is very weak — we see their clashes in decision making, their delays; they don’t have transparency in anything.”
To some, the TNC’s approach is disturbingly reminiscent of Gaddafi’s. “They killed Gaddafi’s regime, but Gaddafi’s culture, Gaddafi’s mentality, is still in their mind,” said Emad Almbsoot, 31, an engineer in Benghazi who belongs to a non-governmental organization that does training on democracy and constitution-building. “We’re monitoring the TNC, we write them letters, we write in magazines . . . but they don’t listen. If they keep doing like this, ignoring the people’s demands, I think they will lead Libya into civil war.”
Whoever governs Libya next must balance carefully between granting the freedoms Gaddafi denied and avoiding the chaos he warned would ensue if he left. Now that the holdout city of Sirte has fallen, the TNC will be replaced by an interim government, but in the meantime it has been hobbled by internal power struggles and an inability to control the revolutionaries it purportedly governs.
Many of the complaints about the ruling council are from citizens of the east, where the revolution had a six-month head start. Since the fall of Tripoli, Westerners have been busy celebrating or making sure their cities were secure.
Abdullah Gilani, 30, an architect in Benghazi who did volunteer work for the revolution, remembers that heady phase, when the east was first liberated. “We felt if we got rid of the regime, the worst case would be better than what we had before,” he said.
Eight months later, Gilani is shocked to see how little has changed. “The executive committee has not declared any plan yet, in any field; this gives us the feeling that they are trying to do things away from the eye of society.”
If this continues, he said, Libyans might stage a second revolution. But he might not be around. “If I get the opportunity to work outside of Libya, I will go out immediately, because I don’t want to waste this period of my life.”