Libya rebel council prepares for the day after Qaddafi
The council, responding to grumbling that they'll make a power grab once Muammar Qaddafi is deposed, says it's preparing for a democratic transition that's fair for all Libyans.
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Details of the provisional constitution are expected to be released soon, and will be food for further debate among the rebels.Skip to next paragraph
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Meanwhile, the members of the executive committee have been busy making their own plans for the transition.
“We are ready,” says health minister Barakat, whose office has prepared a detailed plan for taking over the health sector, initially with lots of foreign help.
The cabinet members returned to Benghazi three weeks ago after being publicly admonished by council members and in street demonstrations in Benghazi over their prolonged absences from Libya.
But victory is far from secured. Qaddafi remains in power in Tripoli, as defiant as ever. In mid-June, he vowed to crush NATO troops in the face of renewed bombings on targets in the capital.
Despite help from NATO bombings on Qaddafi troops and installations, the rebels are struggling militarily as Libya’s civil war enters its fifth month.
The eastern front near Brega has been at a standstill for months, but an uprising of the Berber population in the Western Mountains and renewed fighting in Zawiya, west of Tripoli, have raised hopes here that anti-Qaddafi forces in Western Libya are ready to take on the regime.
US defense secretary Robert Gates said on June 19 that the demise of the Qaddafi regime was only “a matter of time.”
Benghazi running out of money
But time is an enemy of the rebels as well. Transitional Oil and Finance Minister Ali Tarhouni says the NTC is fast running out of money. “We have literally days before the lights are turned off,” Tarhouni told The New York Times in mid-June.
The government in Benghazi is footing the bill for most of the fighting in the West. Benghazi’s mayor, Saleh el Gazzel, went to the western Mountains just last week to pay government salaries there. Both Misuratah and Zawiya are being supplied with guns and ammunition from cash-strapped Benghazi.
“With oil production at a standstill, we are basically running on zero revenue and 100 percent imports,” an adviser to Tarhouni said on condition of anonymity.
Tripoli is increasingly facing the same problem. But, said the adviser, “whether it is weapons or money, the trouble is Qaddafi will always have more than us.”
To be sure, any prediction of the course of events after Qaddafi's fall is risky. Not only has Libya suffered from decades of one-man rule, but with a leader resolutely hostile to the building of state institutions, reliant almost entirely on patronage networks and personal contacts. The TNC are making all the right noises today, but there real influence over Libya's future will only really be assessed when the actual transition begins.