Colonel Gaddafi is a dictator and totally deserves all the humiliation he’s getting right now; including his stash of Condoleezza Rice pictures. The Libyan people have spoken and the bell has tolled for him and his cabal of supporters. The people of Libya deserve a government that they find legitimate and they have every right to begin armed insurrection to overthrow a leader they choose not to have. The leadership in any country must be governed by the will of the electorate, and when this is lost change in government is the natural order of things.
When the African Union (AU) met this week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss the Libya situation, it refused to recognize the NTC (National Transitional Council) as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people. But the AU hasn’t spoken in one voice. Rwanda has supported the NTC and so has Egypt, Tunisia. The schism in the AU ranks is simply a symptom of the complexity of international law vis-à-vis facts on the ground. In very simplistic language, International law dictates that for a government to be recognised by other members of the global community it must be in control of its territory and able to project its power over its territory. Therefore, if we follow the letter of the law, Gaddafi’s government is still able to have its representative at the UN speak on behalf of the Libyan people; but of course this isnt happening any more. This brings me to my next point.
While a government might rant and rave all it likes, if it’s being forced to address its people in the dead of the night and squash rumors of the capture of its leaders, it’s in big trouble. And the Gaddafi is in HUGE trouble. Here are the facts of the ground: he’s lost his own presidential compound, his ministers are like rats jumping off a sinking ship and no one expects him to survive the next couple of days. His troops are fighting a rearguard action and his last hope is that the tribesmen will ride in to save the day (they won’t).
Each side has valid points and I cannot say which one is correct. The issue of what legitimacy means in international affairs in something that is close to Rwanda’s heart. If you may recall, right in the middle of the fastest genocide in history, the genocidal regime had a seat in the UN Security Council. That scandal is something that the UN hasn’t been able to get over, in my mind at least. And that’s before I even get to UNAMIR. So, obviously the international system has its flaws when it comes to recognizing ‘legitimate’ governments. It’s cumbersome and it needs a radical rethink.
However, in this instance I am uncomfortable with the entire Libya issue. There are too many geo-political interests involved here and honestly, I detect that the lure of oil is dictating the actions of NATO. In fact, the price of crude oil has fallen since the rebels entered Tripoli. Is that just a coincidence? In the world where ‘might is right’ and a lot of the natural resources are found in poor nations, will we see an increase of ‘democratic’ rebellions? I mean, let’s be honest here. Everyone, from the British SAS to the American CIA has played an active role in the formation and consolidation of the NTC. And if you think that someone isnt going to pay them back for the ‘assistance rendered’ you’re naïve.