It seems clear that Libyans have chosen to celebrate this weekend to recognize the lives lost in the struggle to topple President Moammar Gadhafi instead of raising complaints over the array of challenges that the transitional government has so far made little progress in tackling. However, the sluggishness of the political transition is not lost on many Libyans.
“We are still in the beginning. There is still no state that has replaced Gadhafi’s mafia,” said 29-year-old Hossam Mushabah, who was selling parrots at a Friday morning market near Bab al-Azizia, Gadhafi’s sprawling fortress-like compound. It is still littered with the wreckage from August 2011, when Tripoli fell to rebel forces aided by NATO air strikes.
In the 16 months since Gadhafi’s death, the basic pillars of a new Libyan state — from regular security forces to a legislative body based on a constitution — do not exist. Instead of taking the lead in beginning to build new institutions, the General National Congress (GNC) elected last summer has largely dodged their responsibilities, relying on local armed groups to provide security in the unstable East and even in the capital. It was not until a week ago — more than six months after the GNC was elected — that the transitional body agreed on the key issue of how members of the commission that will draft the constitution will be selected. On Feb. 6, the GNC voted in favor of choosing the members of the future Constitutional Commission through a national vote, instead of through appointment by the GNC. Elections for this commission will be held after a new electoral law is drafted and passed, and therefore is not expected until toward the end of this year.