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For Libyan rebels, forgiving Gadhafi backers could be toughest task

Aug 22, 2011 9:46:00 PM - thestate.com
Consolidating the swift and dramatic capture of Tripoli is only the first of myriad obstacles the rebel leadership must overcome to build a democratic Libya from the rubble of Moammar Gadhafi’s rule, analysts said Monday.

In a region rife with cautionary tales of failed democracy experiments, Libya’s National Transitional Council seeks to build the exception – an Arab state with an inclusive government, a commitment to human rights, and legitimacy at home and abroad.

The council members’ success, experts said, hinges on whether they can prevent a campaign of score-settling and persuade Libyans to unite around their shared experience of life under one of the world’s most capricious dictators. How the rebels treat members of the former regime – such as deciding whether to prosecute them in Libya or through referral to the International Criminal Court – will be an early test of their principles.

“Truth and reconciliation is going to be necessary, but it’s also going to have to be forgiving and generous,” said Lisa Anderson, president of the American University in Cairo and a renowned expert on Libya.

“There’s no other way. Most of the people who stayed in Libya managed lives for their families by doing things that in the light of day they’d just as soon not talk about.”

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