News / Africa

    Panetta Offers US Support for Libya's Transition to Democratic Rule

    U.S. Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, center, is greeted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, right, before the start of their meeting in Ankara, Turkey,  Dec., 16, 2011.
    U.S. Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, center, is greeted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, right, before the start of their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Dec., 16, 2011.
    Luis Ramirez

    The U.S. defense secretary heads to Libya on Saturday, becoming the first American defense chief to visit the country. Leon Panetta plans to offer Libya's interim leaders Washington's support for their efforts to transition the country to democratic rule. Our correspondent is traveling with the defense secretary and has this report from Ankara.

    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visits Libya months after a popular rebellion assisted by the U.S. and NATO drove out longtime ruler Muammar Qadhafi. He says he is going to get a first-hand look at the situation after the revolution and pay tribute to those who carried it out.

    Libya's new leaders have been working to bring together factions and forge institutions, including an army, but that effort is proving difficult.

    A recent gunbattle between army troops and members of a militia near the Tripoli airport and other violence raised questions of whether the country is able to transition to a stable democracy any time soon.

    On the eve of his visit to Tripoli, Panetta told reporters in the Turkish capital he has confidence that transition will happen.

    "There are going to be challenges here," said Panetta. "There are going to be difficulties, but I think any country like Libya that was able to do what they did and show the courage that they did in making the changes that took place there, I'm confident that ultimately they're going to be able to succeed in putting a democracy together."

    The defense chief said Washington is ready to offer assistance to Libya's new leaders, but only if and when they request it. He cautioned against giving the appearance that the United States is trying to dictate how Libya should set up its new government.   

    "The last thing you want to do is to try to impose something on a country that has just gone through what the Libyans have gone through," he said. "They have earned the right to try to determine their future.”

    Panetta said a transition will take time.

    "They are working through some very difficult issues to try to bring that country together. It's not going to be easy," he said. "This is tough. This is not a country that has a tradition of democratic institutions and representative government. This is going to take some work but the indications I have that they are making progress trying to bring the tribes together, trying to bring the country together in order to establish the institutions that must be put in place so that the Libyan people will have the opportunity to have elections, to have representative government. "  

    Panetta's stop in Tripoli comes after he briefly stopped Baghdad briefly this week to mark the formal end to the U.S. war in Iraq.  He also visited Afghanistan, where he said the U.S. Is winning the war on extremists.   

    On Friday, Panetta met with Turkish officials and discussed the need for the international community to pressure Syria's leadership to - in his words - “do the right thing” by allowing democratic change and an end to human rights abuses.

    He also praised Turkey - a member of NATO - for allowing the installation of a NATO missile defense radar system on its territory.  The system, designed by the U.S., is part of a shield to guard NATO countries against a missile attack from Iran.

    You May Like

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    First Human Head Transplant Planned for 2017

    Italian neurosurgeon, assisted by team of 100 medical staff, to perform 36-hour surgery on Russian man with debilitating muscle-wasting disease

    Biden Urges Global Focus on Cancer as a 'Constant Emergency'

    At Vatican conference on regenerative medicine, Vice president notes that cancer kills more than 3,000 people each day in US alone

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora