Oxford’s Institute of Human Sciences and Oxford Research International have conducted research to prove that fewer than one in three Libyans would support a democratic regime.
While thousands were killed at the hands of Muammar Gaddafi during a despotic reign spanning four decades, the study also revealed that more than a third of citizens would rather see a return to dictatorship than the installation of a democratic government.
This is arguably because of the tribal divisions within Libya, which has provoked concern that without an iron fist, the power vacuum left after Gadaffi’s death in October will lead to fighting between the factions which united to remove him. While the Oxford research found that more than two thirds of Libyans would like some democratic proceedings in elections, 35% of Libyans would like to see a return to dictatorial rule within 5 years.
The director of Oxford Research International, Christoph Sahm, said that ‘although there appears to be a push for an early election, the population seems to be happy with the National Transitional Council [NTC]”.
‘Perhaps more significantly”, he continued, “Libyan people have not yet developed trust towards political parties, preferring a return of one-man rule. Yet they have also resoundingly said they want a say in how their country is run, which suggests Libyans who have had autocratic rule for decades lack the knowledge of how a democracy works and need more awareness of the alternatives to autocratic government.
‘It seems that the majority of Libyans are not in support of the NTC, with 81% putting their faith in the regime which helped topple Gaddafi. As many as 16% said they were ready to resort to violence for political ends.
However, many have expressed concern about the violence which has broken out as a result of the militia providing law enforcement. Médecins sans Frontières have suspended their involvement in Misrata after law enforcement officials asked them to give medical treatment to prisoners mid-way through torture sessions, only to begin torturing them again. Amnesty International found that 10 of 11 Libyan detention centres they visited were using torture or mistreating their detainees.