Democracy in Libya Research Paper

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer


In the past few months, the world has witnessed revolutions taking place in the Arab world. Some of the countries affected by this uprising include Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, and Syria. While some uprisings took a few months for the presidents to move out of office, others have turned out to be chaotic and deadly because the government deployed security personnel to quell the uprising.

In Tunisia and Egypt, the presidents left office after a few months, but in Libya, it took the intervention of the international community to oust Muammar Gaddafi from power. In Yemen and Syria, the protests are still going on, with the Syria one becoming deadly because of the use of force to stop the protests. It is upon the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that will compel President Assad of Syria to relinquish power by imposing sanctions on his country.


This paper will assess the Libyan situation during the rise and after the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who has been the president for over forty years. A brief history of Libya together with that of Col. Muammar Gaddafi will also be provided to create a better understanding of the two. This involves looking at his leadership style and its impact on the Libyan people. The paper will also address other pertinent issues like the role of the United States in enhancing democracy in Libya.


One thing has been common during the protests that have taken place in the Arab world; freedom of expression and more political space. According to Harmon (2009), people have the power and the moment they are dissatisfied with the rule; they will do all they can to get a new ruler.

In Libya, Col. Muammar Gaddafi had oppressed his subjects for a long time (Ramiro, 2011). Inspired by the events in Tunisia and Egypt, the people decided to protest in the streets and with time, Gaddafi had to step down. Majority of citizens took to the streets, demanding his resignation.

Why is this topic important?

DiPiazza (2005) argues that we are living in a global village. This means that people can relate with one another in any corner of the world because the means of communication and transport has been improved. Therefore, this proposition is important because it has helped the world see the atrocities being committed by the government on the people of Libya. According to Tomas (2008), in the contemporary world, many people have come to learn about their basic human rights.

Therefore, whenever their government denies them such rights, people are likely to air their grievances. For instance, it has observed that women are mistreated in some countries and regarded as properties. This perception, however, has changed, and women can take any position in power.

According to Sullivan (2009), the Libyan government has in the past been accused of sponsoring terrorism activities. Gaddafi government claimed responsibility of bombing the Pan Am Aircraft in Lockerbie in 1988 where close to three hundred people lost their lives.

Therefore, this topic would be regarded as of great importance in the world today because terrorism acts have remained a thorn in the fresh for many people. Miller (2011) has asserted that the 2001 attacks in the United States of America were linked to Al Qaeda, a terrorism group that was headed by Osama bin Laden.

Carter (2006) notes that Libya has been under dictatorship rule by Muammar Gaddafi believes that his ruling is final, and no one should criticize him. Because Libyans have a new transition government in place, it would be important for the Federal Government of the United States to increase its democracy assistance to the new government.

It’s influence

According to Hoyos (2011), we are living in a world where information spreads very fast from one part to the other. Therefore, whatever happens in a certain country or region is likely to influence other parts of the world. We find that the Egyptian government, for instance, tried to block social sites such as Facebook and Twitter from its people so that they would not be influenced by the events in other countries, particularly Tunisia.

Why it is happening now

Bianci (2003) has noted that most of the leaders who are very popular by the time they are ascending to power tend to become the least popular by the time they leave the office. When Gaddafi became the Libyan leader, he abolished the monarchy and established a people’s republic. However, people began disliking him, accusing him of condoning corruption and engaging in terrorism acts. This explains why the events in Tunisia and Egypt motivated the local people to rise in arms against their leader.

Therefore, these events are a culmination of Libyans dissatisfaction in the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi. It dawned on the Libyans that if Tunisian and Egyptian long-serving Presidents can be overthrown, then it was possible in Libya too. As a result, many young men volunteered to join the rebels. With the assistance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), they have overthrown Gaddafi from power.

The intention

This topic intends to bring into light why governments should be accountable to the people. According to Dirk (2005), a people elected or not elected government should be answerable for its actions to the people. He argues that some of the actions the government takes affect the people directly. Although some may be positive, others may affect them in a negative manner. It as a result of this that this topic needs to be addressed by all the stakeholders involved in the management of a country.

When Muammar Gaddafi was accused by the international community for blowing up of the Pan Am Aircraft in Lockerbie, Scotland, the Libyans suffered for such acts when the United Nations imposed sanctions on Libya. This further explains why the government should consider the results of its action on the people; hence, this topic.

Historical background of this topic

According to Miller (2011), Libya was an Italian colony that gained its independence in 1952. Best (2006) states that Gaddafi was a junior military officer before coming to power. He ganged up with other junior officers with whom they overthrew King Idris I in a coup d’état. According to Waniss (2007), it was after the revolution that Gaddafi assumed full responsibility of running the country. He argues that because of his tender age, he lived a very expensive life while the majority of his people languished in poverty.

Later on, he made Libya a one-party State, a situation that locked out all people who hoped to become presidents in an election. Ham (2007) argues that the tribulations of many Libyans began here because any one who opposed the government was detained and tortured. Others were never found alive after detention.

Although many people opposed the government, Blanchard (2011) has stated that very few would openly declare their opposition to the government. This created a lot of tension between his supporters and his opponents because he had put his spies all over to provide any information regarding their plans or opposition to the government.

Democratic space among the people was reduced, and the freedom of expression and basic human rights were equally denied. This is according to Burr (2008), who has argued that the government went further and banned all media houses that spread propaganda about Muammar Gaddafi and Libya at large.

This was meant to prevent any information leaking from the government to the people and the rest of the world. The government media house was not interrupted from operating because it was supposed to spread the achievements of the government other than its failures.

According to Vandewalle (2008), the Libyan government was also blamed for sponsoring terrorism activities in the world. This was particularly so during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The United States government decided to attack Tripoli in 1986 as a warning that the international community was keenly following the activities of the Libyan government. This was the reason why the United Nations imposed trade sanction that remained in place from 1992 to the year 2003 on Libya following the 1988 Lockerbie air crash.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Robert (2004) has noted that there were few opposition figures who openly opposed Gaddafi’s regime. However, just like those who had tried the same in the past, they were arrested, detained, and some sentenced to death. He argues that the government would, after that charge them with attempted coup and treason charges that carried capital punishment. According to him, the charges were meant to deter any other person from opposing Gaddafi and his government.

To get a platform to air their grievances, Martinez (2007) argues that some of his opponents decided to flee the country and establish an opposition party outside Libya. However, this proved to be an ineffective method because Gaddafi issued ultimatums to these people to return to the country or else he would revoke their citizenship. Those who returned were forced to apologize publicly to the president. Gaddafi’s autocratic rule continued despite many people calling for him to allow more political space and multiparty.

Under his rule, Haggi (2009) has lamented that the country’s resources were concentrated in some few areas perceived to be his stronghold at the expense of other areas. It is worth noting that by the time the rebels and the NATO army overthrew him recently, the country and the people had become poorer than he had found them when he ascended to power in the year 1969, in spite of having numerous oil deposits across the country.

This forms a good background of why the United States should substantially increase its democracy assistance to Libya. According to Bruce (2002), when Muammar Gaddafi seized control of the country, many people were prosecuted for engaging in corruption under the previous regime. Some were even sentenced to death. He thus argued that the same vice Gaddafi was fighting against thrived well under his rule.

DiPiazza (2005) has argued that the United States of America is perceived to be the most democratic country in the world. Therefore, it would be necessary for the United States government to play a role in helping bring democracy in the ‘new born’ Libya. This is important because it can help reduce the instances of going back to the autocratic rule associated with Muammar Gaddafi.

Also, it is important to recall that the United States of America is a victim of terrorism which Gaddafi was in the past blamed for funding and supporting. Therefore, it would help the United States if the new Libyan government yet to be formed is democratic to avoid instances where it can be compromised by the terrorist groups such as the Al Qaeda.

For over forty years, the Libyan people have not known multiparty (Martínez, 2007). Therefore, with its vast experience on this, the United States government would be of great help to this country because it will help the people know how to cope with others people who have different opinions or stands in matters about politics. Such a move will not only help foster peace and unity in the country but also increase the democratic space which has eluded them for the past four decades.

We have found that, despite numerous differences among the politicians and the members of the public, the United States of America has continued to enjoy peace and tranquility. This is unlike many countries where political differences have resulted in wars and conflict amongst the people and especially in Africa, where Libya is situated.

When the United States takes these principles to the Libyan people and government, the country is likely to remain peaceful and calm in spite of the differences among the people and the politicians. In many countries, politicians have been blamed for fueling conflict among people.

Death sentences, which are mainly associated with the Arab world and amongst Muslims, may decrease. In a country regarded as being democratic, death sentences have been substituted with life imprisonment. This gives the culprits a chance to think about their actions.

After serving several years in prison, such people have a chance of reforming and may be incorporated back to the society. On the same note, the new Libyan government should learn this and do away with death sentences so that it can give its people a chance to reflect on what they have done. This is a major stride towards becoming a democratic country in the world.

Definition of terms


This is a term that has been used to describe the oppressive nature of Gaddafi’s government. It was stated that the government arrested and detained all those people who were perceived as opponents of Gaddafi’s rule. This is a fact.


This term has been used in the paper to illustrate the lies cooked by the Gaddafi’s government as it gagged the other media houses. It was said that the only operational media house during his rule was the one owned by the government. This is value.


This is the practice of allowing many political parties to participate in the general election. In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi had suppressed all other political parties and made the country a single party state. This has been described by many scholars as a major tool of killing democracy in a country because people lack other avenues of expressing their opinions politically. This is a fact.


This term has been used in the paper to illustrate how the world has developed technologically to the extent that time and space are no longer barriers to effective communication. Today, through the use of mobile phones, people can communicate with one another in any part of the world with much ease. This has been contrasted to the previous years where one had to walk to a telephone booth to make a call. This is a fact.


Democracy is a term used to show that the government of a certain country has allowed its people freedom of expression and speech. This term is also used to describe those governments that adhere to human rights. Gaddafi’s government could not be said to be democratic because the citizens lacked the freedom of expression as well as that of speech. This is value.


These are groups of people who have tasked themselves with committing crimes that affect society and the world in a big way. It has been observed that the United States attacked Tripoli because Gaddafi had been held responsible for the bombing of the aircraft in Lockerbie. He was also accused of funding terrorist attacks in other countries in the world. This is a fact.


These are the measures put in place to make sure that a particular country is denied access to things such as finances from other countries and trade between such countries with others.

These measures are meant to make the government change its policy in the manner of handling its issues both locally and internationally. For instance, when the Libyan government failed to surrender the suspects accused of bombing the Pan Am Aircraft, the United Nations imposed trade sanctions on Libya to compel her to hand over the suspects to the Scottish government for trial. This is a fact.


This term has been used to refer to the current government in Libya. It has been described as the transition government because it is meant to lead the country before a formidable and people elected government is formed. This is value.


Although Muammar Gaddafi had come to power vowing to prosecute those people involved in corruption, we have found out that he too became corrupt. He had exploited the country’s resources at the expense of his people. With his fall, it is expected that the transition government will not follow his footsteps because the desire of the people was to have more political space.

With the United States of America increasing its democratic assistance to this country, it is expected that people will see each other as equals and instances of conflicts will decrease. The Libyan people need to forget the past and forge together so that they can help in rebuilding their country in its former glory.

This will ensure that the country is economically, politically, and socially mature. The international community should also play a role in making sure that the infrastructure spoilt by the war between the government and rebels is reconstructed.

Reference List

Best, J. (2006). The North Africa African governments. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Bianci, S. (2003). Libya: current issues and historical background. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Blanchard, C. (2011). Libya: Unrest and U.S. Policy. London: Routledge.

Bruce, R. (2002). Libya and the United States: two centuries of strife. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Burr, M. (2008). Darfur: the long road to disaster. Princeton: Markus Weiner Publishers.

Carter, F. (2006). African governments in the 21st Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

DiPiazza, F. (2005). Libya in Pictures. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books.

Dirk, J. (2005). A history of modern Libya. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Haggi, N. (2009). The Libyan Revolution: It’s Origins and Legacy a Memoir and Assessment. London: O Books.

Ham, A. (2007). Libya. London: Lonely Planet.

Harmon, D. (2009). Libya. Chicago: Mason Crest Publishers

Hoyos, D. (2011). A Companion to the Punic Wars. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Martínez, L. (2007). The Libyan paradox. New York: Columbia University Press.

Miller, F. (2011). 2011 Libyan Uprising. London: VDM Publishing House.

Ramiro, J. (2011). The struggle for democracy reaches Libya. Web.

Robert, M. (2004). Projections of power: framing news, public opinion, and U.S. foreign policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sullivan, K. L. (2009). Muammar Al-Qaddafi’s Libya. Minneapolis: Twenty First Century Books.

Tomas, W. (2008). Democracy in the African Continent. London: Longhorn Publishers.

Vandewalle, D. J. (2008). Libya since 1969: Qadhafi’s revolution revisited. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Waniss A. (2007). The Libyan economy: economic diversification and international repositioning. Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen Press.

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