Since the death of Colonel Gaddafi, there have been scenes in Tripoli which would have been unthinkable just a few months ago. His Bab al Aziziya compound has become a sort of tourist attraction where civilians mingle with the heroes of the revolution.
Many people came to watch the demolition of Gaddafi’s ruined houses. For them it is a powerful symbol.
Tripoli resident Hana Beshti told euronews: “For us, this place represents him. His thinking, his people. All the atrocities started from here, all that happened in Libya for the last 42 years. So this place for us now, with him gone, represents our freedom. And the freedom of Libya, and the future of Libya. And hopefully once it’s demolished, there will be nothing left of Gaddafi.”
Another resident, Awatef Beshti, said: “I can’t describe what I feel. I still don’t believe it. Really I don’t believe it. Sometimes I wonder, is this true? And then, I find it is true! So I feel alive again.”
Hana Beshti added: “It’s a country that never had political freedom, never had different political parties. We had one ruler, one dictator, one thinking. We have to learn how to practice our freedom now. We have to learn how to accept divisions politically. We hope that we will keep the unity of our people through that.”
Building a united country on the rubble left by the revolution is a crucial test for Libya, where reconciliation between rebels and former Gaddafi supporters has hardly started. Demilitarisation, and handling inter-regional tensions and tribal rivalries are also challenges.
The President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, has however already made his first official visit to Libya. It was the first such visit from an international political organisation. He said: “I offered quite concrete projects, at the level of political exchanges, how to build democracy, democratic institutions and procedures.”
The NTC has already pledged to lead the country towards democracy, with a system based on Sharia law. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of Libyan National Transitional Council, told euronews: “The source of all legislation in Libya is Sharia law. On this basis, and during the transition period, any law or decision that is not in accordance will not be implemented.”
The plan is for an interim government to guide the country’s reconstruction alongside the NTC, before elections in eight months’ time for an assembly which will draft the new constitution. Until then, it will also face the hard task of ensuring security and stability.
People from Marzouk in the south of Libya, about 1,000 kms from the capital, held a demonstration in Tripoli.
One of them explained: “We are here to protest, and to make the voice of people from the south heard. There are groups of criminals there, remains of the Gaddafi regime, who violate our rights. They arrest people, commit robberies and rape, and they threaten our security. The south has become a refuge for Gaddafi’s mercenaries. They have gathered in that region, and perpetrate all sorts of crimes while pretending to be 14 February Revolutionaries.”
Another demonstrator said: “Some of those people, they’re from Niger, from Chad. They are not Libyans. They do bad things to us. They destroy everything there. So we are asking the NTC and all the military council here to help us.”
However many black Africans have become collateral victims of the Libyan revolution. Just over the Tunisian border, the Choucha Refugee Camp is the last one left in the region. There are still around 4,000 people in the camp, many of them from sub-Saharian Africa.
Because Gadaffi used black African mercenaries during the revolution, all black Africans – many of whom have lived in Libya for years – have become suspect. Now, they risk being ill-treated, arrested or even killed by revolutionaries tracking down mercenary soldiers.
Yakubadam Saad Sharif, a refugee from Darfour and from Libya said: “Not everyone was a mercenary. We don’t deny that they existed. But those people were forced by Gaddafi’s men. They told them, ‘Either you’re with us, or you’re with the rebels’. Some of our people were killed in Misrata because they refused. The brigades forced them to join them, or killed them. The choice was between two ills and even the softest option was sour for us. Either you joined the brigades and got killed by the rebels or you didn’t and you were killed anyway. But not everyone participated.”
Some people have only recently arrived in refugee camps. Rania Adriss and her family are originally from Sudan, but they have lived in Libya for nine years. Now however, in the uncertainty and chaos of post-revolutionary Libya, it is impossible for them to stay.
Rania Adriss told us about her situation: “It’s worse now. Because the new people in Benghazi think that black people are their enemies. Because Gaddafi loved black people, now everyone thinks they are enemies.”
For many of these people, and for Libya itself, the future is uncertain.