International figures involved in leading the offensive against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi are focusing on Libya moving forward now that the former leader is dead. They realise the country still needs help as it works towards establishing a democratic government.
Speaking from Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy was keen to appear magnanimous: “One should never rejoice in the death of a man, whatever he has done. But the threat posed by Gaddafi and the group of mercenaries who were with him was a real threat to the future of Libya. Now you have to turn the page, and progress with forgiveness and reconciliation,” he said.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO, said Gaddafi’s death brought the mission nearer to its completion: “NATO and its partners have successfully implemented the United Nations mandate to protect the people of Libya. We will terminate our mission in coordination with the United Nations and the National Transitional Council and that moment has now moved much closer,” he told reporters.
British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to continue to help the country. Speaking at a news conference outside No. 10 Downing Street, he said: “People in Libya today have an even greater chance, after this news, of building themselves a strong and democratic future. I’m proud of the role Britain has played in helping them to bring that about, and I pay tribute to the bravery of the Libyans who’ve helped to liberate their country. We will help them, we will work with them, and that is what I want to say today.”
Economic challenges ahead
Gaddafi may be dead, but his economic legacy lives on.
It will take a long time to get the economy functional again with nearly a third of Libyans unemployed, the poverty rate above 30 percent and crude output slashed to around of quarter of what it was before the conflict.
Economists say the new government will at least be able to use the billions in oil revenue that Gaddafi stashed away during his 42 years in power.
The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have already visited Libya and will return there in “coming weeks” to assess economic and financial needs, an IMF spokesman said on Thursday.
Officials from the IMF and World Bank visited Libya between October 6 and 13 to conduct a fact-finding mission on the economy and public financial management issues, IMF spokesman Gerry Rice told reporters.
“Follow-up missions are planned to undertake a needs assessment,” he said but was unable to give dates.
The World Bank said in September it had been asked to repair water, energy and transport sectors as Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council focuses on rebuilding Libya.
After four decades of Gaddafi’s personalised rule, Libya does not have a regular state structure and state services are poorly run. There were attempts under Gaddafi to modernise the oil-based economy and government services by passing laws to attract investment but much of the effort was wasted.
However things are likely to move slowly for the economy of post-Gaddafi Libya, if the experiences of some of its neighbours are anything to go by.
Heading into elections, the post-Arab Spring markets of Egypt and Tunisia continue to find it difficult to pick up speed.
Tunisia goes to the polls on 23 October, with the elections are likely to give power to a mix of moderate Islamists and left-wing parties.
Privatisation plans remain on hold, after the interim government cut on hold a listing of Tunisie Telecom following the ousting of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January.
Tunisian stocks have fallen 10 percent so far this year, although this does represent a good performance compared with some other markets in the region.
For Egypt, the situation is worse. Stocks have fallen 40 percent this year, not helped by renewed protests and violence ahead of elections which kick off at the end of November.
Some ratings agencies are likely to wait until after the elections before reviewing Egypt’s ratings, but S&P cut the rating by one notch this week and maintained its negative outlook. Tunisia is also on negative outlook with all three ratings agencies.
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