By Samuel Burke & Claire Calzonetti, CNN
Libya has come to the forefront in the U.S. presidential election campaign. The attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi last month has turned the deaths of the American ambassador, Chris Stevens, and the three other U.S. officials into a political football.
Ali Tarhouni served as Libya’s interim prime minister after playing a key role in marshaling international support and funding for the revolution that overthrew Moammar Gadhafi last year.
But he says he refused to run for prime minister in the recent election because he doubted the new leaders wanted to swallow the tough security medicine that he was prescribing in order to confront and rein in the militants.
“When I outlined what I wanted to do, the National Transitional Council at the time said that that's too tough of a medicine.”
He not only wanted to speed up the process of building the national army and border control, but also wanted to increase the internal security.
Tarhouni says he also wanted to take on the revolutionary groups that are still roaming around Libya.
“A lot of these revolutionaries are good. They are the ones who actually liberated the country.” But, he says, these post-revolutionary groups aren’t under anybody’s control and are getting involved in smuggling.
“We're still in a transition period. And the country's armed to the teeth. We don't have border guards. So in this setup, what you call a government is still a very weak structure.”
Tarhouni says the government must do deeper investigation into the death of his friend, Ambassador Stevens.
“He was a friend of this country. He really believed in this revolution. And I believe that we owe it to him. We owe it to the United States to investigate and find who committed this murder.”
He says he’s not sure the government is doing enough, in part, because the country is still in flux. Tarhouni says there’s no national army and the internal security apparatus still has hazards.
But he does believes Libya has made great strides in a short amount of time.
“Yes, we are in a transition period. But Gadhafi is dead. In a very short period of time, we formed something, a resemblance to political parties. We have an elected parliament.”
“I wish that Chris were around to see, at least, that transition.”