Tuesday, January 21, 2020
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Home » Joint Communique on Libya

Libya is an Arabic country located in North Africa and is part of the Greater Middle East. It is the 17th largest country in the world, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west.

Libya has  a long history dating back several millennia and is home to some of the most finely preserved ancient artifacts in the world, such as some of the earliest cave paintings known to man as well as ruins and relics from era’s such as that of the Phoenicians,  Romans, Greeks and Ottomans amongst many others.

Libya achieved independence in 1951 after years of Italian colonization which was fiercely resisted for over 20 years and led by the Libyan national hero, Omar Mukhtar, who is known by many as ‘The Lion of the Desert’ .

On 21st November 1949, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution stating that Libya should become independent before 1st January 1952, until finally, on 24th December 1951, Libya declared its independence as the United Kingdom of Libya, a constitutional and hereditary monarchy under King Idris I, Libya’s only monarch. The 24th December was then declared as a national holiday.

1951 saw the enactment of the Libyan Constitution. The Libyan National Assembly drafted the Constitution and passed a resolution accepting it in a meeting held in the eastern city of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, on 7th October 1951.

The passing of the Libyan Constitution was hugely significant due to it being the first piece of legislation to formally establish the rights of Libyan citizens following the post-war creation of the Libyan state. Following intense debates between King Idris and the UN, the King finally managed to unify all three regions of Libya, them being Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica, into one single nation.

After the first significant discoveries of oil in 1959, Libya quickly rose from being one of the world’s poorest nations, to being a wealthy state, undergoing vast infrastructure and development programmes, with the lives of ordinary Libyans greatly improving, demonstrated by a large rise in the literacy rate and life expectancy.  Libya currently has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa and the 10th largest in the world.

On 1st September 1969, a small group of military officers led by Muammar Gaddafi, overthrew the monarchy of King Idris in a military coup d’état. After initial reforms and nationalizations of many private and foreign owned lands and businesses, Gaddafi solidified his grip on power and used any measures he deemed necessary to remain in control.  Gaddafi’s 42 year rule was seen by many as authoritarian, brutal and corrupt. These characteristics of the dictatorship, in addition to others, were some of the key factors and reasons behind the Libyan Revolution which started on the 17th February 2011 and is now also recognised as a national holiday.

After the overturning and removal of the long-time rulers in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, Libya was inspired and began its own uprising. After heavy crackdowns by government forces and mass killings of protesters across the country, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 on 17th March 2011. This resolution meant the implementation of a ‘no-fly zone’ and the use of “all means necessary” to protect civilians within Libya. This resolution was pushed forward by many countries, most notably by Britain, France and the United States of America. The ‘no-fly zone’ was carried out by an international coalition of countries and organizations including NATO.

After many months of fierce fighting and the liberation of Tripoli on 22nd August 2011, Gaddafi was finally captured and killed on 20th October 2011. Shortly after, on the 23rd October 2011, Libya was officially announced as liberated from Gaddafi’s ‘Jamahiriya’, with the day being declared ‘Liberation Day’ and is now a national holiday.

As a result, Libya is currently undergoing political reconstruction, and was temporarily governed by an interim government, the National Transitional Council (NTC). A General National Congress was elected on 7th July 2012 by the Libyan citizens in the first free and fair elections in almost half a century. The NTC handed power to the newly elected assembly on 8th August 2012. Dr Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf was elected President of the Libyan General National Congress on 9th August 2012 and Ali Zeidan was elected Prime Minister on the 14th October 2012, who is required to form a cabinet of ministers to run the country for a further interim period. The assembly has the responsibility of forming a constituent assembly to draft a permanent constitution for Libya, which will then be put to a referendum.

Libya’s economy is growing at a rapid rate. This is in part due to factors such as an increase in oil revenues, the opening up of the Libyan market to international companies and a significant increase in investment from the private sector, both domestic and foreign, as well as a steady increase in population. A majority of the Libyan population is concentrated around its three largest cities; the capital Tripoli, Benghazi and Misrata, respectively.

Another key factor in Libya’s growth is its thriving tourism industry, as it contains some of the best tourist destinations in the world, with its pristine 1,770 km coastline, the longest of any African country bordering the Mediterranean, as well as its vast and awe-inspiring desert, within which, many tranquil desert oases are hidden and world famous traditional culture and hospitality. Some of the best kept ancient sites in the world include the ancient Roman city of Leptis Magna which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the ancient Greek ruins of Shahat and the breath taking and dramatic views and lush forests of the Green Mountains.