24 Oct 2011

Liberation of Libya to be marked as civil war declared over

12:39 am on 24 October 2011

Libya is to declare its eight-month civil war against Muammar Gaddafi's 42 years of one-man rule over, on Sunday and embark on building a democracy with the country's first free elections next year.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to pack into the central square in Benghazi, the cradle of the uprising against Colonel Gaddafi, to witness the chairman of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, announce the liberation of Libya.

With huge oil and gas resources and a relatively small population of some six million, Libya has the potential to become a prosperous country.

But there are fears that regional and tribal rivalries fostered by Colonel Gaddafi could erupt into yet more violence.

Mahmoud Jibril, who has announced that he is stepping down as interim prime minister, has said progress for Libya would need great resolution, both by interim leaders on the Transitional Council and by the general population.

Mr Jibril says the country's first election will be held by the middle of next year.

He says voters will elect a National Congress to draft a constitution, which will then be put to a referendum. The congress will also form an interim government until the first presidential elections are held.

Leader wishes Gaddafi was alive

Mahmoud Jibril has said that he wishes Colonel Gaddafi had not been killed and instead had been put on trial for his crimes.

Colonel Gaddafi's body remains on public display in Misrata, bearing wounds assumed to have been inflicted by fighters who hauled him from a drain.

Libyan forensic doctors are reported to have carried out an autopsy on the body.

One of the people involved in the autopsy confirmed the development but did not reveal any of the findings.

Mr Jibril told the BBC that, personally, he wished the dictator was alive and that he could have been his prosecutor at his trial, so he could ask him why he oppressed the people of Libya for 42 years.

The commander whose forces captured Gaddafi, Omran al-Oweib, says he tried to save the dictator's life so he could stand trial but he was unable to.

He says the fugitive leader was hiding in a drain after the NATO air strike on his convoy but was dragged out and collapsed on the ground as he was attacked by a furious group of fighters.

Mr Oweib says gunfire broke out between Gaddafi supporters and National Transitional Council fighters and it was impossible to tell who fired the fatal bullet.

The commander says he drove Colonel Gaddafi to a hospital on the outskirts of Sirte but he died on the way.

Post-mortem examination

A post-mortem examination on the body of Colonel Gaddafi has reportedly been performed in Misrata.

An official from the National Transitional Council has told the BBC a post-mortem was carried out on Saturday.

However, another senior official from the NTC says there was no need for an examination as the cause of death had emerged from a pathologist's report.

The NTC says Colonel Gaddafi's body will now be handed over to representatives of his family.

The family will then organise a funeral in conjunction with the NTC.

The body had been lying in a meat store for two days following his death.

Libyans had been lining up for a glimpse of the ousted leader on a mattress on the floor.

Officials had been arguing about what to do with the body, delaying his burial which according to Islamic traditions should have taken place immediately.