Libya declares nation liberated after Gaddafi death

North African state on course for transition towards democracy; outgoing prime minister says Libya to form interim government within a month.

By REUTERS
October 23, 2011 17:07
2 minute read.
Libya flag seen on top of a damaged building

Libya flag 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani)

 
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BENGHAZI, Libya - Libya declared the liberation of the nation on Sunday after 42 years of one-man rule by Muammar Gaddafi came to an end with his capture and death last week, setting the North African state on course for a transition towards democracy.

"We declare to the whole world that we have liberated our beloved country, with its cities, villages, hill-tops, mountains, deserts and skies," said an official who opened the ceremony in Benghazi, the place where the uprising erupted in February and which has been the headquarters for the National Transitional Council (NTC).

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Salah el Ghazal, another offical who addressed the tens of thousands of people gathered for the celebrations, that Libya was blessed with Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the head of the NTC.

"God has blessed us with the Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who deserves to be the man of the hour," said Ghazal, who is a local official of the NTC.

Crowds listening to Libyan music and waving the tri-colour flag cheered. Ghazal paid tributes to all those who died, and referred to the "humiliating" death of Gaddafi.

"This is the humilitaing end that God wanted to set as example for anyone who practices the worst forms of injustice .. against their people," Ghazal said.

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Gaddafi, who vowed to fight to the end, was found hiding in a drain after fleeing Sirte, the last bastion of his loyalists. He died in chaotic circumstances after video footage showed him bloodied and struggling at the hands of his captors.

Libya's outgoing prime minister said on Sunday consultations were under way to form an interim government within a month as the country looks ahead to its first democratic elections in more than four decades.

With deposed dictator Muammar Gaddafi dead, the people who led his overthrow are trying to unite the country's disparate forces and press ahead with democracy and reconstruction of the war-scarred north African country.

Mahmoud Jibril said the fighters who toppled Gaddafi were ready to return to their cities and "join hands for the sake of rebuilding their own country."

"There are consultations which started to form an ... interim government. This process will take, I think, from one week to one month approximately," Mahmoud Jibril told reporters.

"This is my expectation. It might go longer, it might be less than that," he said, speaking in English.

Elections to a national congress, or parliament, to replace Libya's National Transitional Council would take place as soon as possible afterwards, Jibril said.

He said he did not plan to stand for any official position after stepping down this weekend.

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