Libyans Declare Freedom After Gadhafi’s Death

Scores of Libyans celebrated the beginning of what many are calling a “new era.”

Posted: 10/24/2011 03:51 PM EDT
Filed Under Libya, Moammar Gadhafi

Libyans poured into Benghazi’s Kish Square Sunday to celebrate transitional leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil’s announcement that the country is officially liberated.

The celebrations came just three days after outsted leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed by rebels in his hometown of Sirte and two months after he was pushed from the nation’s helm in Tripoli.

At Sunday’s ceremony, Abdul-Jalil told supporters that Islamic Sharia law would form the basis of all legislation in the country, and that existing laws which contradict the Islam would be deemed void.

"Today we are one flesh, one national flesh. We have become united brothers as we have not been in the past," he told Sunday’s crowd.

"I call on everyone for forgiveness, tolerance and reconciliation. We must get rid of hatred and envy from our souls. This is a necessary matter for the success of the revolution and the success of the future Libya."

The declaration starts the countdown to formal, democratic elections that are expected within eight months to a year. The transitional leadership is also scheduled to declare a new interim government within a month.

The city of Benghazi has special significance for Abdul-Jalil and supporters, as the city was the starting place for the uprising that began last February.

Since Gadhafi’s death, however, the transitional government authorities have come under increased scrutiny over alleged human rights abuses in connection with the killing.

Soon after his death was announced, images and video emerged showing that Gadhafi was not killed accidentally as initially reported and was taunted by his capturers before death. Since then, Gadhafi’s body, along with his son, Mutassim, has been on public display in a cold storage facility in Misrata.

An autopsy performed Sunday showed that the former leader died from a bullet wound to the head.

Despite the violent killing, Abdul-Jibril told the BBC that he would have preferred to have Gadhafi alive so that he could be prosecuted for his crimes. Abdul-Jibril also vowed to complete a full investigation into the killing.

Monday, international watchdog Human Rights Watch reported that the bodies of 53 people, believed to be Gadhafi supporters, have been found in a hotel that was under the control of anti-Gadhafi fighters.

(Photo: Esam Al-Fetori/Reuters)