What Will a Gaddafi-Free Libya Mean for Democracy?

A day after hundreds of rebels stormed Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli and claimed victory for their movement, gun fire between Gaddafi loyalists and the rebels continued today in the capital.

NATO has said that 80 percent of Tripoli is under rebel control, but small pockets of loyalists continue to shoot shells and assault rifles in the city and will likely continue to do so in the coming months.

Yesterday, ABC’s Jeffery Kofman went into Gaddafi’s compound with the rebels and called the storm into the compound as Libya’s equivalent of the “fall of the Berlin Wall.”

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A rebel fighter told Kofman of Gaddafi, “He made us slaves for him but today we are free, free, free and Libya is going to one of the best countries in the world.”

However, Gaddafi continues to defy his reality and has emerged from hiding today with an audio message that called upon his loyalists to take back Tripoli from the “devils and traitors” who have overrun it.

The Associated Press reported that Gaddafi also vowed to fight for Libya “until victory or martyrdom.”

The defiance of Gaddafi and his loyalists could turn Tripoli into a “bloodbath,” world leaders and analysts have said.

Furthermore, even with Gaddafi’s power overrun, the former strongman will likely do whatever it takes to make sure that the rebels are not successful in running the country either.

Con Coughlin of the Telegraph wrote a few days ago, “If Gaddafi can’t run Libya, then he will make it as hard as possible for his successors to do so.”

Coughlin also indicated that even with Gaddafi gone, the potential for a bloodbath in Tripoli will persist as the rebels, which consist of various factions, have their own idea for what a post-Gaddafi Libya should look like. Some fear that they could end up engaging in “a bloodbath of their own.”

Thus, with Gaddafi’s power basically eliminated and concerns emerging that the rebels may fight amongst themselves, many are wondering if a Gaddafi-free Libya is indeed a victory for democracy and human rights in the country.

The Christian Post turned to a Derek Catsam, a Senior Blogger on African Affairs with the Foreign Policy Association, to ask just that question.

Catsam stated, “We will not know for quite some time if it (the ousting of Gaddafi) is a victory for democracy.”

He continued, “It does pave the way for democratic possibilities in the future, but we should not be premature in overstating what this means. We’re on the verge of overthrowing the devil we know. Hopefully we are setting the conditions for removing devilry entirely.”

Respect for the human rights of the Libyan people, particularly Gaddafi loyalists, will be another relevant factor that will be significant to watch in the coming months.

Catsam told CP that he believes that the world should focus on the long-term impact of regime change because in the shot-term human rights abuses are likely to flourish in an environment of conflict.

He stated, “Hopefully the removal of Gaddafi’s regime means that we have created conditions that will allow for greater human rights and democracy to flourish. On the whole I think we should be wary of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. In and of itself, removing a megalomaniac from power has to be seen as a good thing. It’s just too soon to know what comes next, and what comes next is pretty important.”

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