Gaddafi’s body in cold storage in Misratah
The late strongman will be buried in a secret place to avoid turning his grave into a place of pilgrimage for his diehard supporters. His wife calls on the United Nations to open an investigation into his death. Civil war now looms as Tripoli and Benghazi, secularists and Islamists, vie for power.
Tripoli (AsiaNews) – Tripoli, Benghazi, Misratah and other Libyan cities are celebrating the end of the Gaddafi regime, with people waving the flag of the “new Libya”. Gaddafi’s body and that of his son Mutassin were shown today in Misratah where they are kept in cold storage. At present, the rebels are still discussing where to bury him to avoid turning his grave into a place of pilgrimage for supporters of the old regime.

On Friday, the United Nations' human rights office called for an investigation into how he died. From Algeria where she fled, Gaddafi’s wife also called on the United Nations to open an investigation. Unconfirmed reports say that Gaddafi’s second don, Sail al Islam, thought to have died yesterday, may be on the run towards Niger. Other unofficial sources say instead that he wa wounded and is now under arrest.

Despite the celebrations across Libya, many observers underscore the price Libyans had to pay in blood. Although exact figures are still unavailable, unofficial estimates put the number of victims to more than 10,000 killed, wounded and injured. In addition, thousands of people from Sirte and Bani Walid are still displaced and six months of fighting and airstrikes have caused huge material damages. What is more, the war has generated lasting hatred between Gaddafi loyalists and rebels.

Following the strongman’s downfall, many analysts wonder whether the National Transitional Council (NTC) will be able to turn Libya into a democracy or fall apart because of divisions among its leaders.

For Kamran Bokhari, an Asia and Nideast expert and vice-president of global intelligence company Stratfor, two groups are now vying for power in Libya: the NTC, founded in Benghazi by rebel factions from Cyrenaica, and the Tripoli Military Council (TMC), led by Abdul Hakim Belhaj, head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and a former member of al-Qaeda. Despite the recognition of the international community and the move of the NTC to Tripoli, the TMC refuses to recognise the authority of the Benghazi leadership.

Then there are ethnic-tribal as well as ideological differences between Islamists who want an Islamic republic and non-Islamists who want a secular oriented government.

The next months will be crucial for Libya’s future, according to Bokhari. The country still does not have a real government and is awash in weapons and crawling with guerrilla fighters who must be quickly incorporated into a single army.

The end of the war against Gaddafi could in fact reignite secular hatreds among the Libyan factions and plunge the country into another civil war.

So far, the only action taken by the country’s new rulers is to sign contracts with NATO members.

Nuri Berruien, head of Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp., said Qaddafi’s death would expedite the nation’s efforts to return to normal crude-output levels at around 600,000 barrels a day by the end of the year.

News yesterday of Qaddafi’s demise saw crude oil for November delivery fall 66 cents to settle at around US$ 85 a barrel.