Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Triumph for Democracy in Libya

by Ann Marlowe

Wall Street Journal

July 10, 2012

I was surprised and touched to receive holiday greetings from Libyan friends around the Fourth of July. Mohamed Hilal El Senussi, a grandnephew of Libya's first and last king, emailed: "I would like to extend to you and your family my very best wishes. May God bless America." His sentiment was clear: Libyans love free Libya as much as we love America.

Most Libyans admire America and our heritage of liberty. It helps that the U.S. government—unlike Britain's or Italy's or France's—never cozied up to Gadhafi. And this Fourth of July held a special resonance for Libyans: They took to the polls on July 7 in the first free multiparty elections since a vote in 1952 that was restricted to men and cast without secret ballots.

Several of my acquaintances were among the 4,000 candidates for the 200-seat General National Congress, which is to form a ministerial government to replace the Transitional National Council. One independent who lost, archeologist Shawki Moammar, still sounded thrilled as he told me on the evening of July 8 that the National Forces Alliance led by Mahmoud Jibril was leading.

This coalition is not liberal or secular in the Western sense, but it supports a civil state and is opposed to the values of the Muslim Brotherhood's Justice and Construction Party. Mr. Moammar said, "Now I am not scared for the Libyan people. We are not like Egypt and Tunisia. I am very happy to see democracy for the first time in Libya."