Libya's long-time dictator, Muammar Gaddafi has been killed in his hometown, Sirte.
The former dictator reportedly died from wounds to his head and legs. The news was confirmed as Libyan Prime Minister, Mahmoud Jibril, told a news conference in Tripoli: "We have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Muammar Gaddafi has been killed."
The death of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi at the hands of rebel forces finally ended four decades of autocratic rule following an insurgency that toppled his regime two months ago. But the end of Gaddafi's power creates new questions and challenges about the future of the country.
What does Gaddafi’s death mean for Libya? What lies ahead for the National Transitional Council? How will the region’s future be shaped? Where does Democracy feature in this equation?
As reports of Gaddafi’s death circulate, hopes rise that Gaddafi’s replacement, a nascent Libyan democratic republic could, with luck, political acumen and lucrative oil and gas revenues help spread stability and reform across north Africa and Arab world.
“Gaddafi's capture represents a very significant further step for peace and freedom in the whole region". Britain's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stated.
In London, the Libyan charge d'affaires, Mahmud Nacua, told a press conference that, "Today, Libya's future begins. The Libyan people are looking forward to a very promising future where they can finally start building the free democratic state for which they have fought for about eight months now.”
Analysts, however, are less optimistic. “The challenge now is to manage the legacy, to put to bed the question of what lives on and what dies with Gaddafi,” Dr Larbi Sadiki, a Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter asserted.
“Democracy is always postponed. It must be relativised. This would mean, in this instance, to search for a means to install a system of participatory governance”. He added.
With Gaddafi finally out of the picture, the National Transitional Council (NTC) faces a mammoth task in overseeing the change and forging a better future, with western and wider international support likely to be crucial to long-term success. This is coupled with the accountability issues plaguing the NTC. As the political symbolism of Gaddafi's death, the NTC is now more than ever under the spotlight. What is the nature of any association they had with Gaddafi? Are they apt to continue as they are without modestly and voluntarily explaining themselves to the Libyan people? Accountability is expected through transparency, legality and honesty.
For Libyans, Gaddafi's death alters but does not transform the situation in Libya. Fighting could still continue for some time, as forces loyal to the former leader may well continue to resist soldiers of Libya's transitional government.
With six million people sitting on huge reserves of oil and vast tracts of land, Libyans have the potential to be amongst the richest people in this world. Setting order to the Libyan house will require distributive justice, just as urgently as erecting durable, reproducible, legitimate, and popularly elected and contested civic bodies, watchdogs and institutions.
To an extent, there is some closure in Gaddafi's death. It spares Libya bloody showdowns and trials. This is one advantage Libyans have over Tunisians, who must not digress in democratisation by seeking Ben Ali's extradition, and Egyptians whose own trials are imperfect - even if the cause of justice they seek is right.
Report: Gaddafi killed in hometown, Libya eyes future [Reuters, 20 Oct 2011]
Report: Gaddafi 'dead': reaction from around the world [The Telegraph, 20 Oct 2011]
Analysis: Keeping Libya's promise after Gaddafi's death [Al Jazeera, 20 Oct 2011]