DEAD SEA, Jordan (Reuters) - Libyans should be allowed to vote within eight months to elect a national council that would draft a new constitution and form an interim government, Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said Saturday as he prepared to step down.
After the death of Muammar Gaddafi this week, the priority was to remove weapons from Libyan streets, restore stability and order and begin a process of national reconciliation, Jibril said at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.
“The first election should take place within a period of eight months, maximum, to constitute a national congress of Libya, some sort of parliament,” he said.
“This national congress would have two tasks — draft a constitution, on which we would have a referendum, and the second to form an interim government to last until the first presidential elections are held,” said Jibril.
The National Transitional Council (NTC) that led the fight against Gaddafi has said it plans to declare the full “liberation” of Libya Sunday after the killing of Gaddafi by fighters who overran his home town Sirte.
Jibril, an expatriate academic who strikes a modern, Western-friendly image, told Reuters Saturday that he planned to step down “today,” a move he had planned to make once the country was under full government control.
He said Gaddafi’s death left him feeling “relieved and reborn.”
Commenting on the disgust felt by many at the sight of Gaddafi’s blood-stained, bullet-holed body, he told Reuters: “People in the West don’t understand the agony and pain that the people went through during the past 42 years.
Jibril said Gaddafi’s body, which lay unburied in a meat locker in the city of Misrata Saturday, would be buried within 48 hours in accordance with Islamic practice.
Gaddafi’s demise was the main goal that united the rag-tag militias and defected army battalions that have battled his forces since an uprising began in February.
Libya’s future stability will require the NTC that appointed Jibril — comprised of secular liberals, Islamists and tribal elders — to prove a willingness to compromise, a quality that was anathema under Gaddafi’s system of one-man rule.
Progress would depend on two things, said Jibril.
“First what kind of resolve the NTC will show in the next few days, and the other thing depends mainly on the Libyan people — whether they differentiate between the past and the future,” he said.
“I am counting on them to look ahead and remember the kind of agony they went through in the last 42 years.”
Jibril said the north African country, which Gaddafi turned into a major energy exporter, needed a vision for finding another source of income because Libya had already consumed 62 percent of its oil.
“We need to seize this very limited opportunity,” he said. “We should use this time properly to build an alternate economy as fast as possible.”
Some Libyan officials have said countries that failed to back a NATO bombing campaign that helped dislodge Gaddafi, including Russia, China and Germany, or were slow to denounce Gaddafi, such as Italy, could lose out in Libyan oil deals.
Libya’s National Oil Corporation said this week it had summoned Russian energy group Gazprom to a meeting in Tripoli to discuss what the Libyans said was a breach of investment obligations.
In a warning to Libya’s future leaders, Jibril said the next government must not to allow politics to influence the award of oil contracts.
“I can advise the coming interim government that the economic rule should be the rule. It’s very dangerous to have contracts based on politics,” he said.
Editing by Louise Ireland