Institutional challenges remain for Libya

May 11, 2012 at 2:10 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, May 11 (UPI) -- There's a sense in Libya that citizens are growing accustomed to their new form of government though institutional gaps remain, a U.N. representative said.

Libyans are eligible to vote starting May 15 for their first national election in a generation. Long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi died last year after falling into rebel hands, ending decades of dictatorship.

Ian Martin, U.N. special envoy to Libya, told members of the Security Council there was a political sea change under way in the country.

"One can clearly sense that for the first time in a generation, people are unafraid to speak out," he said during his address.

He cautioned, however, that high expectations for quick political reform following what he said was the "terrible legacy" of the Gadhafi regime were putting strains on Libya's emerging political system.

Early this year, security forces intervened when tribal clashes erupted in parts of the country. This week, former anti-Gadhafi rebels stormed government buildings in Tripoli.

Martin said it was imperative for all branches of the interim government to work together as the country prepares for elections later this year.

"The international community should be frank with them and with ourselves in continuing to identify the challenges and gaps, and remaining committed to support the Libyans in their quest for democracy and stability with technical advice and practical support," he said.

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