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Libya’s Ambassador: ‘The Book of Gadhafi Has Come to the End’

October 21, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
Libya's National Transitional Council is expected to officially announce the nation's liberation this weekend. The country is also expected to soon form a new interim government. Jeffrey Brown discusses the next steps on the road to democracy with Libyan Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali.
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JEFFREY BROWN: Today, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for Human Rights said a full investigation is warranted into Gadhafi’s death.

Meanwhile, Libya’s Transitional Council is expected to officially announce the nation’s liberation this weekend, and soon after, to form a new interim government.

Joining me now is Libya’s representative in Washington, Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali.

Welcome to you.

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI, Libyan ambassador to the United States: Well, thank you. Thank you.

JEFFREY BROWN: First, the celebration. This must be a profoundly happy moment for you and your country.

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: Exactly.

It is the day we are waiting for a long, long, long time. I am very proud of these young people who made the dreams of Libyans, who have been suffering for the last 40 years, happen in eight months.

JEFFREY BROWN: Now, the questions that are out there about how Colonel Gadhafi died, given the video we’re seeing, does your government still believe he was killed in a crossfire in battle?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: That is a statement made by the prime minister, Dr. Mahmoud Jibril.

This is a battlefield, Jeff, as you know. You cannot control, really, where the bullet is coming from. And he was arrested. He was injured first when the revolutionaries, they get him. But the main thing for Libya now, this chapter is over. The book of Gadhafi has come to the end.

Now, of course, the Libyan people, and the NTC, and the international community, they want Gadhafi alive. The people — the Libyans, they want to ask him, where are our friends, our beloved ones? What happened to them for the last 40 years? Then there are many serious questions to be asked. But this is what happened, unfortunately.

JEFFREY BROWN: But the questions that it calls now for an investigation, do you think it is important to know how he died and to have it investigated?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: Well, I think an investigation doesn’t hurt, because the transparency is required.

Now we are a democratic country, that we have to prove to the world that we are carrying our responsibility. And the NTC, of course they will carry this investigation if they find it is necessary, without a request from any organization or any country.

JEFFREY BROWN: And the NTC, the Transitional Council, now has said that the decision on when and where to bury him seems to be on hold pending these questions.

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: It looks like maybe after this concern was raised, that the burial of Gadhafi is delayed for one day, yes.

JEFFREY BROWN: For one day, you think?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: It looks like.

JEFFREY BROWN: But you’re not sure at this point?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: At this moment, I’m not sure, yes.

JEFFREY BROWN: Now, as to the big question of what comes next, what do you see as the most important priorities for the interim government?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: There are many priorities. The challenges are great.

But I have the confidence of these people who managed to unite for eight months — that they will — in the time of war, they will be able to also unite in the time of peace. The challenges now facing them is the injuries. And you know that Secretary Clinton, she was in Libya, and Sen. McCain and Rubio and Graham and Kirk, and there is an American initiative that maybe a ship hospital maybe will be open, some of the hospitals — a military hospital in Europe.

And this is challenge number one. Number two is the security of the country. I believe this. They have to do something urgently and as soon as possible to get arms from the street. We want Libya to look completely different after Gadhafi is dead, and that we have to move quickly. We don’t want to see these weapons hanging here and there and carried by the main people.

Of course, the expectation of the people is very high. And something has to be done very quickly to better the lives of the Libyans, who have been suffering for a long time.

JEFFREY BROWN: Of course, the question is whether the government is strong enough to do this, whether the institutions exist to move to a so-called new Libya, or whether the divisions and factions and old hatreds and tensions will be unleashed now.

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: I can tell you the Libyans, they have never been united under Gadhafi since this moment.

Gadhafi is what makes them unite against him. And the sacrifice of the Libyan people, for one thing, for the democracy, for their dignity. Now there are no institutions. The institutions made under Gadhafi were to serve Gadhafi himself.

But to get the people to practice democracy, it is a challenge. To get the right money for the — what we need to do is another challenge. But the friends who stand beside us in the time of war, the United States of America, NATO, Arab countries, they are all, they are ready to help in the time of peace. And I think this experience of Libya will try to be taken care of, of the international community.

JEFFREY BROWN: You mentioned earlier the many weapons out there. There are a lot of weapons, a lot of armed people, a lot of militias who now will have to somehow unite.

One of the questions of course out of the issue of how Gadhafi was killed is whether the government can control these militias and bring them in somehow.

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: Yes we can.

JEFFREY BROWN: You can.

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: Libya went towards (INAUDIBLE) in ’52, there were 56 Libyans that graduated from university.

Now, with the education, with the resources we have — before there was no resources — we have been able to present Libya as a model of a small country which can do many things. Now we have oil. Yes, we are not producing it as we used to be, but we have the Libyan people who came out united from this war, and their will and the will of the world to get rid of this dictatorship. I think all will work together for the new Libya and the Libya of the future.

JEFFREY BROWN: And, briefly, what do you want from the U.S. and the international community at this point?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: I think I need from them — and I would repeat always this — that they stand beside us, with us in the war. We want them to stand with us in the peace, to help us to process the democracy, to help us to secure our country.

Security is very important. Libya is a very big country with very long borders, and that’s important. We have to get rid of these weapons. We have to get rid of these missiles which is being — you find them everywhere you go. Gadhafi hid them in different places.

We need this help. We need training for our police, for our army, for our technicians, when, and all this of course is involved. And the other thing, I think, also, we have to release this frozen money and made them available for the NTC after a government has been formed that they will be assisted from this money.

JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Ambassador Ali Suleiman Aujali of Libya, thank you so much.

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: Thank you, Jeff. Thank you very much.