“I like to believe there are no obstacles that we Libyans cannot overcome,” Abdurrahim El-Keib, interim Prime Minister of Libya told an IPI lunchtime audience on March 7, 2012. The prime minister, appointed in October 2011 by the provisional government, the Transitional National Council, spoke about last year’s struggle to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, the support of Libya from the international community, and his government’s vision for the future.
“A year ago, I did not dream this day was possible,” Prime Minister El-Keib told the standing-room audience. “Now, I can dream of what is possible a year from now. The enormous accomplishments of the past year fuel my optimism for the future of our country. For our near future, I see a stable, inclusive, democratic Libya.”
Recalling the beginning of the revolution in February 2011, he said “The road to dignity, equality, and freedom, was very costly. The brutal regime would not adhere to the will of the Libyan people without a vicious fight. It promised its people rivers of blood.”
He said, “Fire was opened on unarmed protestors, heavy weapons were used to silence the people. But they were not to be silenced. That was the moment in which resolve and history was turned around. Our brave men and women met the very well-equipped Qaddafi army with an iron will to survive.”
“Our citizen army…suffered great losses with the rest of the civilian population, but stood strong. Stood strong in the pursuit of freedom, democracy, governance, and rule of law. It has not been easy. With great courage, and sadly also with great loss, we managed to push back Qaddafi’s forces from the east of Libya.”
Prime Minister El-Keib expressed thanks for the support of the international community. “The international community chose not to sit quiet and watch as we were being massacred,” he said. “To our gratitude, the international community decided to implement the UN resolution to protect civilians and rallied to our support.”
“It was the latent energy and the thirst and hunger for equality and democracy within the Libyan people which has brought to life freedom and gave us back our dignity,” he said.
Speaking about the transition towards a new regime, he said, “We have a legitimate presiding body, the National Transitional Council, and we have an interim government but the revolutionary fever in Libya remains as ever. The excitement about the future remains as electrifying as can be. We believe it is our job as government to keep these alive. We believe it is important to channel this tremendous energy, which brought us freedom into the process of building a new Libya.”
“Our main mission as interim government, in the few months that we have,” he said, “is to keep the revolutionary train on its trail, and pave the way for it to move safely and steadily forward.”
He warned, however, that, “The year ahead will be very challenging. The process of achieving the aims of our great revolution, freedom, equality, democracy, shared governance, respect for human rights, and rule of law, will take much longer than the mandate of my government.”
“The biggest challenge facing us today is overcoming forty-two years of dictatorial legacy,” he said. “As an emerging democracy, we will need the help and support of our friends and partners around the world, and we certainly welcome it and hope it happens.”
The discussion was moderated by IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen.
Watch video of the event: