Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Libya's Rebel Capital, Celebration Turns to Contemplation of Future

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Libya's Rebel Capital, Celebration Turns to Contemplation of Future

Article excerpt

Libya's rebel government, the National Transition Council, now faces a far greater task than governing Benghazi.

A day after the rebels battling the forces of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi surged unexpectedly into Tripoli, the raucous celebrations in the rebels' de facto capital of Benghazi has receded into contemplation of what comes next.

"For sure we are going to face some difficulties," says Fathi El Turki, who nevertheless says he has hope that revenge violence could be avoided. But he has little faith in the rebel leadership - the National Transitional Council, which has been governing rebel- controlled Benghazi for months.

Now that Mr. Qaddafi's rule has all but expired, the NTC will have a much larger responsibility: steering the country through a fraught transition into elections, while preventing Libya from fracturing into further violence. Western governments from France to Britain to the US, which spearheaded the five-month NATO siege on Libya, have thrown their weight behind the NTC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people and the one best positioned to usher in democracy.

Mr. Turki says he believes the NTC, which has vowed to move its headquarters to Tripoli in the coming days, is "not up to the task. But I believe all people will support them just to pass through this period."

'It's over, believe me'

Benghazi's Liberation Square, the site of wild celebration last night when residents heard the news that two of Qaddafi's sons had been captured by the rebels, was calm Monday. A group of men sat in the late afternoon sun, enjoying the cool breeze from the Mediterranean as they waited to break the Ramadan fast.

They said they were optimistic about the next few weeks and months.

The rebels' quick advance into Tripoli gave businessman Yousif Boufana hope that Qaddafi's regime would be finished off without much further bloodshed. "It's over, believe me. Everyone who belongs to Qaddafi will surrender," he said.

Others chimed in to say that the country would unite instead of splintering along tribal lines as Qaddafi's regime fell. And they said they trusted the NTC to guide the nation until a government can be elected. …

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