Oliver Miles writes: Both the Libyan public and international observers appear to have been more than satisfied with last weekend’s elections, the votes of which are still being counted. There were incidents of violence in the run-up, but in the end polling took place almost without disturbance, except in Kufra in the far south-east, where there is a long-standing tribal problem.
The 200 successful candidates will now form a national assembly that has two tasks: to appoint a temporary government, and to establish a committee that will draw up a new constitution.
Now that oil production has been restored close to the pre-revolutionary levels (much more quickly than anyone predicted) and many frozen assets have been released, the government no longer faces the cashflow problems that crippled it earlier this year. But its most urgent task is to ensure continued security, and here the main problem is that so-called militias – consisting of fighters who took up arms spontaneously in the revolution – remain semi-independent.
They are not in revolt against the central government, but the government does not have a monopoly on legitimate force, which is essential for stability.
The government has progressively taken control of airports, ports and key border crossing points, but much remains to be done. An example is the situation in Zintan, in the western mountains, where the militia are still holding Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam. The government allowed a delegation from the international criminal court to visit him, but the militia arrested them on allegations of malpractice. They were released after an apology from the ICC president himself, Sang-Hyun Song, but the government was not in full control and it is still uncertain how and where Saif will eventually be tried – and of course how the government will eventually come to terms with the militia. [Continue reading…]