News / Africa

Libyan Unity the Only Way Forward, Says Economist

Libyans wave their new national flag as they celebrate following the official declaration of liberation of the entire country, October 23, 2011.
Libyans wave their new national flag as they celebrate following the official declaration of liberation of the entire country, October 23, 2011.

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  • Clottey interview with Sami Zaptia, a Libyan economist

Peter Clottey

A Libyan economist says expectations are “naively” high following the demise of Moammar Gadhafi and the subsequent declaration of a liberated Libya by the National Transitional Council (NTC).

Sami Zaptia said Libyans are expressing optimism that the NTC will introduce policies that unify the country after four decades of authoritarian rule.

He said Libyans understand that they will fare much better united rather than divided.

“There is a mood that the [country’s individual] parts cannot survive without each other, or that the sum of all parts is much stronger than any individual part,” said Zaptia. “So, I think there is a strong push for unity… there are differences of opinion, but that comes up with pluralism and a pluralistic society.

Observers say there has been an explosion of media publications and outlets since the downfall of the Gadhafi government. They say it’s proof that Libyans are enjoying their newly found freedom. Zaptia echoed similar sentiments but was skeptical about the survival of all of the new media.

“There [are] at least 200 publications and there is about 10 or 12 television stations and there [are] an equal number of radio stations,” said Zaptia. “I don’t expect all these organizations to survive over time. Those who have a proper business plan will keep on…Definitely, there is no shortage of freedom of expression or opinions or discussions in Libya now.”

He said that the transitional government has a “preset” roadmap, and “they are not allowed to go off script.”

Zaptia said Libyans expect a new government to be formed within 30 days and a soon to be established constitutional council to draft a constitution.

“The next big target ahead is democratic [and] free elections,” he added.

Some analysts have expressed concern that tribal and other divisions since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi will create a haven for hard-line Islamic extremists which could destabilize the country. But, Zaptia said he is optimistic.

“With the right government with a good, clean transparent administration, I am very positive, and there is no reason not to be,” said Zaptia.

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