Bracing for the post-Qaddafi era

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Bracing for the post-Qaddafi era

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s 42-year-old tyrannical rule is finally over. With the rebel forces seizing most of Tripoli, Libya’s fledgling National Transitional Council (NTC) officially declared victory yesterday. Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, chairman of the rebel government, said that Qaddafi’s day is over. Though Qaddafi’s whereabouts are unknown, there is virtually no possibility that he will be able to turn the tide amid the roaring fury that has swept the Middle East.

The demise of Qaddafi’s rule reminds us of the simple truth that any despotic regime is doomed to collapse when people turn their backs on it. Qaddafi launched a bloody crackdown on thousands of protesters who, buoyed by the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia and Egypt, took to the streets, triggering a civil war that led to his fall. The UN Security Council’s resolution on military intervention and NATO’s bombing raids helped anti-Qaddafi forces gain a priceless victory in just six months.

The Libyan uprising vividly shows what destiny awaits dictators when they lose the trust of their people and the international community. All autocrats around the world, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, must shudder at what has been unfolding in Libya.

Libya without Qaddafi, however, is just the beginning of the change. No doubt it will not be easy for the country to jettison the residue of despotism, both physical and mental, and establish a democratic system, given the internal schism among over 140 tribal groups.

The NTC should now work to quickly settle the inevitable chaos that follows when a regime falls, canvas public opinion, draw up a new constitution and hold general elections. The new government should also accelerate post-civil war reconstruction. The international community, and the United Nations in particular, should extend a helping hand to the Libyan people.

Korean companies have a huge stake in the biggest oil-producing country in Africa. Twenty one construction companies have been working in Libya on contracts with the Qaddafi government on 53 projects worth $7.4 billion in total. Though the NTC announced it will respect all international contracts concluded with the previous regime, that still remains to be seen.

The Lee Myung-bak administration should not allow our businesses to suffer any collateral damage by fully opening relations with its new counterpart. As Libya’s overseas assets amount to $100 billion, a massive reconstruction project is expected. Our government and business leaders must prepare for any possible scenario.
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