Trouble in Libya

“When a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now,” President Obama said in a phone call on Saturday, Feb 26, 2011 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This quote, which comes from the White House readout of the president’s phone conversation, was made in direct reference to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya.

The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, also known as Libya, is currently in an extreme state of instability and unrest. “Jamahiriya,” the phrase created by Col. Gaddafi meaning “state of the masses,” was meant to convey that power rests in the hands of the people through councils or committees, but citizens of Libya never experience such rule, as Gaddafi has maintained autocratic rule of the country since 1969.

Libyans have had nowhere near the same encounter as the peaceful protests of their Egyptian neighbors, whose country borders theirs to the east. Gaddafi has unleashed violence upon the people. His military, as well as hired mercenaries have gunned down hundreds of Libyan citizens.

With the eyes of the world watching, and foreign political leaders taking a stand for the rights of the people, Col. Gaddafi still refuses to back down.

On the north-western border of Libya, the country of Tunisi is undergoing revolution as well. Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali left the country in mid-January after 23 years in power.

The Tunisian Revolution was spurred on by the country’s youth, who, tired of the political corruption, economic failure and lavish living of the bureaucratic elite in their country, used Facebook and Twitter to organize and educate the people.

With a constitutional mandate for a new president to be elected two months after one leaves office, elections should be held on March 15. The people of Tunisia must now decide what changes they desire to make to the current document, or if they should draft a completely new legal system. The tumultuous nation currently walks a fine line between emerging as a bright, new democracy and falling into an anarchist state.


BBC News

The New York Times Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Background Note: Libya


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