“There is a theoretical common cause, which is the transition to democracy,” Karim Mezran, a senior fellow with the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council told Al-Monitor in Tripoli. “Everyone is happy that the regime is gone and they all want to build a new Libya … but there are many different voices and opinions about how to do it.”
Mezran said that the transitional government elected in July “does not have its act together” and warned that the status quo cannot remain. “If things remain the way they have been to date in the transition, then next year’s celebration there will be a disaster.”
As the sun set on Friday, families and young men streamed into Martyr’s Square, which was renamed after Tripoli fell to the rebels. Instead of celebratory gunfire — a common occurrence in the country, where weapons leftover from the civil war remain in free circulation — fireworks lit the sky. A sign hanging on a tent in one corner of the square read, “Yes to Political Isolation,” a slogan for a campaign to ban officials who served in the Gadhafi regime from holding positions of leadership in the future political and security institutions in the country.
Some link the issue of former regime officials maintaining their pre-revolution posts to the string of assassinations of security officials in Benghazi last year and to divisions between armed groups in that city who have conflicting visions for how the oil-rich territory should be secured and governed. At the same time, after 42 years of dictatorship defined by vast patronage networks and a sizeable class of Libyans employed by the Gadhafi regime, Libya lacks a class of politicians or leaders that are untainted by past affiliations with the regime.