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Libya is not failing, PM Zeidan tells Amanpour

September 26th, 2013
02:48 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

“Libya is not a failing state,” Prime Minister Ali Zeidan emphatically told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Thursday. “The state of Libya doesn't exist yet.”

“We are trying to create a state, and we are not ashamed of that,” he said. “The outside world believes that Libya is failing, but Libya was destroyed by Gaddafi for forty two years and was destroyed by a full year of civil war. And that's why we are trying to rebuild it.”

He said that the idea that democracy can be built “within a month” is “an illusion.”

The most-current crisis in Libya involves the militias that have run rampant since the revolution.

Militias in the east of the country are demanding more autonomy from the central government, and have severely constrained Libya’s oil output, which is central to its export revenue.

Prime Minister Zeidan denied reports that his government had tried to pay off the militias to get their cooperation, a charge he vigorously denied, calling such a move “immoral” and “inappropriate.”

The Libyan government is trying to negotiate with the militias to “resolve the matter peacefully,” he told Amanpour, but was prepared to use force if necessary.

“If it gets to a dead end, the state will act as a state and will impose and enforce the rule of law against those who violate it,” Prime Minister Zeidan said. “Everything is possible. Everything that could bring things back to normal, with the least damage possible, we will do.”

Part of Libya’s state-building involves reconciliation and accountability of the Gadhafi dictatorship that ruled the country with brutal force.

The International Criminal Court has asked Libya to hand over Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Saif; Libya has refused

“We believe that the trial of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is an internal Libyan affair,” Prime Minister Zeidan told Amanpour. “What he did, he did against the Libyan people and he must be tried fairly for that. And this will happen.”

Justice is also being sought in the murder last year of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others at an American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

“We arrested some suspects and they are under investigation, and they named some other suspects,” Prime Minister Zeidan said. “We are in close cooperation with the United States,” he said, adding that “what needs to be done is those people who killed Mister Christopher [Stevens] be prosecuted and will be punished duly.”

The overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi marked a different point in the Arab Spring. Compared with the nearly two-plus year bloodbath in Syria, the overthrow of dictators in Tunisa, Libya, and Egypt seems relatively quick.

Prime Minster Zeidan went recently to visit Egypt’s General al-Sisi, which caused much controversy domestically for the Libyan leader. So was he glad about the military ousting of President Mohamed Morsy?

“I am not happy and I'm not sad,” he told Amanpour. “This is an Egyptian internal matter. I cannot have a say in that. All I can say is to bless the choice of the Egyptian people. I went to Egypt because Egypt is a neighboring state and it's important for us to keep normal relations.”

As the international community is in throws over if and how to force Syria to give up its chemical weapons, many are looking to Libya, which voluntarily said it would disarm itself of its own chemical weapons under Ghadhafi.

That process began years ago, but there are still weapons in the country.

“To destroy the chemical weapons piles, it's very costly and requires a high level of technology,” Prime Minister Zeidan said. “We are doing every effort to control the chemical weapons.”

He said that even during the uprising, the Libya opposition began cooperating with the U.S. on how to control the chemicals.

“Some technical missions came and went behind the fighting lines to maintain surveillance on the chemical weapons,” he said.


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Mohamed

    LIBYA IS TAKEN

    September 26, 2013 at 6:13 pm | Reply
  2. Larry Lawrence

    Libya was a PARADISE under the Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi with free health insurance, free schools, free universities, free housing, free farmland and emancipated women. What Muammar al-Qadhafi did for Libya and Africa is without parallel. An honest, dedicated, hard working and peaceful leader murdered by NATO and the USA.

    September 26, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Reply
    • Roy White

      Yes he was. The greatest leader of Libya and Africa. Lying does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self sustained. Libya will overcome the rats.

      September 26, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Reply
      • tarek

        calling group of people of certain ethnicity or nationality or religion rats ..is racism ,

        September 26, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
      • Abdurraouf Elakder

        he was the worst leader ever. Moreover, the crazy dog in the middle-east was not the legitimate leader of libyans. He stole the power in the middle-night, and he forced the society to his rule by blood and fear. 17th revolution is for dignity and recovery the right. Plus Libyan is going to be the best example of modern and developed state. And it will overcome its problems upcoming years. by the way, the victory is taste good.

        September 27, 2013 at 3:03 am |
      • Libyan

        the only rat was gaddafi captured in sirte city sewers like a rat

        September 27, 2013 at 6:50 am |
    • Abdurraouf Elakder

      im libyan, and i know what did you say is not true at all. Gaddafi was killed by libyan people and they were rational enough to do so. the matter is not wealth, or economic status, but freedom and dignity.

      September 27, 2013 at 2:54 am | Reply
    • Libyan

      Libya was hell under gaddafi military dictatorship for over 42 years and there was nothing free under gaddafi because gaddafi did no build anything in Libya .

      September 27, 2013 at 6:47 am | Reply
    • salah

      I am Libyan, have you had the chance to live in this "PARADISE" or you just hear about it, for us it was nightmare, yes free heath but without any services ask why Libyan are traveling to Tunisia or Egypt seeking for medical treatments sometime sold their own houses or cars just to pay for medical treatment in Tunisia , Eduction is free but it is very poor. above all his there is no freedom of express , do you think living in prison is a PARADISE?!!!! I am agree that the situation now is much worse than before but at least we have the freedom and democracy and it will be better.

      September 27, 2013 at 7:19 am | Reply
    • Gazzah

      Please.
      Being a hired hand, you lose your credibility by over exaggerating.
      Having seen the pot holes, the poor education, Libyans flocking to Tunisia or Jordan for their basic health needs, I know this country is more like a paradise lost.
      This man (gaddafi) single handedly brought Libya down to his level.
      Nothing to be proud of.

      September 28, 2013 at 2:57 am | Reply
    • James

      Re Libya being a 'paradise' under Gaddafi – rubbish. The free health care, the university scholarships &c, were only available to people who sold their sold to Gaddafi, or belonged to the right tribes. And given how much oil-wealth that country has, Gaddafi"s achievements were pitiful; this a man who stole upwards of $70bn from his own people.
      It was also a spiritually squalid and deadening place to live – nobody who hasn't lived under an oppressive regime can imagine what it is to live and slowly die in one, and why the Libyans revolted against it and sought freedom.

      October 10, 2013 at 5:21 am | Reply
  3. Eng. Essa Essa

    Is he talking about my country Libya , am Libyan living in Libya now, am feeling he was talking about another Libya on the moon maybe, Libya is going to be failing state under his command, the first country get blame will be united stat, just to let you know, the realty are different from what politician saying in the media .

    September 26, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Reply
    • Abdurraouf Elakder

      you need to know something, change to better takes time, and the greatest countries you see know they went through same transition situation in the past or even worst. i was in libya during the summer and it is fine, why you are telling something inaccurate ? is that for personal position huh.

      September 27, 2013 at 3:09 am | Reply
  4. Name*abdulbasit

    Hi is really lier , he has no experience to lead libya government and the courption is in very high level on this time , all of that Becuse of the incorrect road map which creatd after finishing of the war .

    September 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Reply
    • Abdurraouf Elakder

      it is not that much bad man, during the Gaddafi's period of rule, there were many bad things, but you have not had the freedom or encourage to say one word.

      September 27, 2013 at 3:11 am | Reply
  5. Paul Denton

    Come on people,let's not pretend the old regime was the 'paradise of Africa' some make it out to be. There was stability yes, but the price of that was ruthless suppression of dissent and democracy, and in 2011, it became evident to many in Libya and the West that if ever such an exchange was at one time feasible, it was no longer justifiable, and instead of seizing a golden opportunity to embrace free speech, the right to assembly and protest and democratic reforms, he employed the tools of a tyrant, and knew full well that in effect, he was signing his now resignation, and for the more macabre, perhaps securing his own demise.

    I don't like the way the new government are basically lackeys the West has implanted to ensure they can secure the same oil contracts they had with the previous regime, but i think this democratic Libya, whilst not being a 'paradise' will hopefully be better, will nurture opportunity and ambition for Libyans better and engender more peace in the long term.

    September 26, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Reply
    • Sharon Lynch

      I was in Libya last year for just under three months. I witnessed the election and met Prime Minister Zeidan and a number of other Libyan political leaders when I worked with a group of Libyan to produce a political affairs television series. I can assure you that neither Ali Zeidan nor his contemporaries was installed by the West. If you have been following Libyan politics, you would know that Zeidan was elected Prime Minister by the Libyan General National Congress. He was opposed by and defeated a member of the Muslim Brotherhood political arm, the Justice and Construction Party. Believe it or not, Libyans managed to create their won political scene. Sadly, it has become just as dominated by partisan deadlock as the U.S. struggle between Democrats and Republicans. Chances are that is due to the influence of the West, but that is as far as I would go.

      Libya is an absolutely wonderful country and Libyans the warmest and most generous and cultured people I've come to know. If Prime Minister Zeidan can resolve its security issues, it will likely become as well-traveled as Paris, London, and Rome. It is an enormous challenge, but of all of the guests who appeared on the show Libya Speaks, Mr. Zeidan was the person I would have voted for to lead my country were I Libyan. I was impressed by his intelligence, integrity, and vision. I wish him godspeed on his mission and wait anxiously to return his beautiful country and courageous people.

      September 26, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Reply
      • Abdurraouf Elakder

        Dear Sharon,
        I am Libyan who missed that great time of the Election Day in my country for some reasons. I would like to thank you for your nicest and honest words about Libyan and its people. I am doing masters in political science in the U.S and from my major and experience as a man who lived in Libya for most of my life, I can say that, all your explanation for Libyan political scene is strongly right, and you seem know Libya better than some Libyans do.
        Great regards

        September 27, 2013 at 3:35 am |
    • Abdurraouf Elakder

      i agree with you mostly, the government was elected by libyan in free election, not implement by the west. The libyan oil and gas surly gonna go to the west like how it was since the discovery of it, where do you think we gonna sell it, to African industry!! there are smart and educated people in libyan who have done so far what took years from France as example after their 1789 revolution, or usa after the civil war. the war decision was made by libyans in libya, and they fought one month without NATO's air forces. They who killed the dictator, and they who succeeded the 2012 parliamentary election by themselves. during the dog Gaadafi, were a lots problem in libyan but there were not free media like now can show those problems.

      September 27, 2013 at 3:21 am | Reply
    • Abdurraouf Elakder

      i agree with you mostly, the government was elected by libyan in free election, not implement by the west. The libyan oil and gas surly gonna go to the west like how it was since the discovery of it, where do you think we gonna sell it, to African industry!! there are smart and educated people in libyan who have done so far what took years from France as example after their 1789 revolution, or usa after the civil war. the war decision was made by libyans in libya, and they fought one month without NATO's air forces. They who killed the dictator, and they who succeeded the 2012 parliamentary election by themselves. during the dog Gaadafi, were a lots problem in libyan but there were not free media like now can show those problems.

      September 27, 2013 at 3:22 am | Reply
  6. zedelbasyouni

    I agree with much of what he said, the situation is very bad, and the change does not start from the people, but also of the head of state, has one person can change the course of millions of people, just want honest person and has the ability to manage the situation

    September 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Reply
  7. aurelius

    One yardstick of success or failure is how the Tunisian society and law enforcement agencies protect the right of other religion followers, such as Christians. Tunisians were very respectful of them until the Islamic parties started gaining influence. That led to the government making deals with those parties whereby government authorities would close their eyes on such activities in return for concessions and promises of non violence.

    September 27, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  8. Peter .E Edionwe.

    I was in Libya for 2years befor the revolutions.The question in the lips of virtually the whole of libyans were,for how long will feverish bird tremble in silence befor it keeper?The answer was that,libyans you must smile by force while you suffer.

    September 28, 2013 at 3:22 am | Reply
  9. Aisha Frost

    The leaders of the west realised that the easiest way to ensure Libya remains in their pockets was for it to become 'islamic' – thus be a basket case, never to develop socially, economically or technologically. Unfortunate for the educated or the secularists there who had a dream for a future where their children could be free from tyrants, both military and religious...

    September 29, 2013 at 8:56 am | Reply
  10. amudo1

    If the PM said that they are trying to get things back to normal, that is him accepting that things were good and normal under MG. And what is he doing about many Africans in their prisons been tortured and raped on a regular basis?

    October 8, 2013 at 3:48 am | Reply

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