Rebels Reject UN Military Force but Struggle to Unify Country

The UN will help Libya's interim leaders organize a police force and elections

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Ian Martin, the UN envoy to Libya, announced today that Libya's interim leaders aren't interested in international military observers to maintain security in the country, according to the BBC. But Martin added that the UN will probably help the National Transitional Council establish a police force and prepare the country for democratic elections. "There's essentially no living memory of elections, there's no electoral machinery, there's no electoral commission, no history of political parties, no independent civil society, independent media are only beginning to emerge in the east in recent times," he pointed out. "That's going to be quite a challenge."

In Tripoli, meanwhile, opposition leaders are staring down a looming humanitarian crisis and worrying internal divisions. The New York Times reports this morning that large swaths of the capital are carved up into graffiti-designated "fiefs, each controlled by quasi-independent brigades representing different geographic areas of the country," and a military leader has yet to emerge to unify the various brigades. As the rebels struggle to seize Muammar Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte, they also have to fill a power vacuum in Tripoli and unify a regionally, ethnically, religiously, and politically fragmented country. "Although the transition so far has been surprisingly orderly--almost no looting and little violence--Tripoli has become an early test of the revolution's ability to bridge those divisions," the paper explains.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.