Libya’s new leaders will declare liberation on Sunday, officials said, a move that will start the clock for elections after months of bloodshed that culminated in the death of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
But the victory has been clouded by questions over how Gadhafi was killed after images emerged showing he was found alive and taunted and beaten by his captors.
The long-awaited declaration of liberation will come more than two months after revolutionary forces swept into Tripoli and seized control of most of the oil-rich North African nation. It was stalled by fierce resistance by Gadhafi loyalists in his hometown of Sirte, Bani Walid and pockets in the South.
Sirte was the last to fall, but Gadhafi’s son and one-time heir apparent and many of his fighters have apparently escaped, raising fears they could continue to make trouble.
With Gadhafi gone, however, the governing National Transitional Council was moving forward with efforts to transform the country that was ruled by one man for more than four decades into a democracy.
NTC officials had said the announcement would be made Saturday in the eastern city of Benghazi, the revolution’s birthplace. But spokesman Abdel-Rahman Busin said preparations were under way for a Sunday ceremony instead. He didn’t give an explanation for the delay.
The transitional leadership has said it would declare a new interim government within a month of liberation and hold elections for a constitutional assembly within eight months, then to organize parliamentary and presidential vote within a year after that.
On Saturday, acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril, who has said he plans to resign after liberation, said the interim government “should last until the first presidential elections.”
Speaking at the World Economic Forum on the Jordanian shores of the Dead Sea, he also said the NTC must move quickly to disarm rebels who helped to overthrow Gadhafi’s nearly 42-year-old regime. He said it was a priority to ensure huge caches of weapons are turned in over the “next few days.”
Jibril also said the Libyan people must remember the agony of the past and choose a different path for the future. He said he was “relieved” after Gadhafi’s ouster, describing it as a “great moment in my life.”