This Reuters headline is “Libya’s NTC struggles to stay the “good guys.”
The selection by the NTC of little known academic Abdurrahim El-Keib as interim prime minister on Monday also highlighted how mysterious the internal workings of the new ruling group can be to perplexed diplomats, journalists and Libya analysts, as well as – especially – to an increasingly impatient Libyan public.
“Your time is done, NTC,” a young Libyan blogger wrote this week. “Thank you – the Libyan people.”
Many of them are worried about whether a coalition of armed factions that were bound mostly by hatred of Gaddafi can hold together now his regime has crumbled and he has been buried.
Rights groups are attacking the NTC, too. First it was accusations of the illegal detention and torture of thousands of pro-Gaddafi fighters and, now, reports from Human Rights Watch that fighters loyal to the NTC may have executed scores of captured Gaddafi loyalists in his hometown.
Revenge attacks are common in other parts of the country.
Reuters reporters have heard residents of one Tripoli suburb shout, “You’re just the same as he was! One dictatorship for another!” at a patrol of NTC fighters, combing the neighborhood for locals they say still worship a dead man.
I wrote about that new interim prime minister, Abdurraheem el-Keib, who was rather shadily elected (appointed?) by the NTC leaders this week. Part of what makes people skeptical about the choice is that he is a dual US-Libyan citizen and has at least some tenuous ties to the energy industry. He is supposed to select an interim cabinet over the next couple of weeks “after which it will serve for an eight-month run-up to an election for a national assembly charged with drawing up a new constitution,” then “elections proper” a year following. Which I think all sounds more pretty than it actually is on the ground.
The other big factor – that is, other than continuing fighting and unrest, vigilante revenge killings, loose weapons caches, and an impoverished, war-torn country – is that many of the tribal and rebel factions making up the National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters are backtracking on a pledge to give up their weapons, demanding their own local autonomy in Tripoli, Misrata, Benghazi, etc.
“A basic problem is that the allegiance of most fighters who helped defeat the pro-Gaddafi forces is firstly to their own militias, whose identity is mostly based on specific towns, and only second to the NTC,” Alex Warren, of Frontier MEA, a Middle East and north Africa research and advisory firm, told Reuters.