Libyan authorities are ready to hold free elections within three months and draft a new constitution as a compromise with the insurgents who are demanding Muammar Gaddafi's resignation. Commenting on this today will be our guest Evgenia Voiko, leading expert at the Russian Center of Political Processes.
Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, said on Thursday that Libyan authorities were ready to hold free elections and draft a new constitution. So, what results do you expect?
As for me, the situation stagnates because Western authorities as well as the African Union and Russian authorities do not know the most efficient way out of the situation, the most efficient solution of the problem. I think that these elections will not change the situation to the better because now we can see that the civil war which takes place in the country leads to victims, leads to conflicts, and not to peace. I think that these suggestions will not change the situation because Gaddafi says that he is not going to resign, he is going to remain as he is now, and he will fight until the last point. I am quite sure that this will not save the situation there.
The Russian presidential envoy to Africa Mikhail Margelov met with the Libyan prime minister and foreign minister to discuss ways out of the deepening political crisis in the North African country. So, how do you estimate the efficiency of these meetings and were they fruitful?
These meetings were not fruitful at all because Russia has chosen double position, double game. On the one hand, we are negotiating with the representatives of the Libyan administration; on the other hand, we are discussing the problem with transitional administration, with the representatives of the opposition. So, this position will lead to nothing, and I think that Russian authorities have not chosen yet with which side, with which participants to cooperate. I think that Russian authorities will consider the situation, will observe which part will win in this conflict, and then we will establish relations with this winner. These negotiations were aimed to show that Russia is engaged in Libyan problems, that Russian authorities have some understanding about what is going on in the country, and they are ready to establish relations, to have negotiations with all Libyan conflict sides. I think that Mr. Margelov was just going to show that Russia is a key actor in this region, Russia has some instruments to moderate the conflict and to influence on the Western authorities to stop air operations and even to stop this civil war.
Margelov said he was going to remind Gaddafi about an Arab tradition of reconciliation and examples when a former leader continued to live in his country after being overturned, as has happened in Algeria. And how do you see further Gaddafi’s political fate?
I think that Mr. Gaddafi has decided everything for himself; he has decided to fight until the last point. Of course, he listened to Mr. Margelov’s words about national Arabic traditions, but I am sure that he will follow his own way. Unfortunately, Russia has never been a key actor in the region, and there are some Arabic countries, there are African countries, and especially Western countries which have usually influenced the situation, they have always moderated conflicts. So, I think that Margelov said very nice words, but, as I said, Gaddafi has decided everything for himself.
Some experts believe that Gaddafi can win this war. Do you suppose such development of events?
I am not quite sure about this because for the first time we can see that both Russian authorities and Western authorities have negotiations with the representatives of the opposition. So, it means that global powers are ready to cooperate with new powers of the country. I think that the influence of Gaddafi is not as high as maybe he thinks. The second reason is that those cities which, let’s say, are occupied by Gaddafi’s troops are losing their positions very steady, so I am afraid that Gaddafi has no armament and even no support. I am quite sure that if even he is not going to resign, the situation is not in his favour, and I am afraid that he will have to do it sooner or later.
And what is the most constructive roadmap for resolving the conflict in Libya nowadays?
I think that the most constructive way is to negotiate both with opposition and Gaddafi’s authorities and to find out the best salvation. One of them may be the resignation of Gaddafi, because he has lost his positions, he has showed that despite his very strong government, very strong men, from the moral point of view, still he has no support among the Libyan society and among the African society. So, if he requires any guarantees for himself - written guarantees and material guarantees – both for him and for his family, he may remain in the country and even try to moderate the conflict, and even to be a consultant of the new authorities because he has ruled the country for more than 20 years and has a lot of experience in this. But the situation in Egypt, in Tunisia shows that their former governors are not popular among the new society, among the new leaders of the country. It also shows that the new authorities of these two countries did not manage to develop the economic situation and to attract investments to their countries. So, Gaddafi must prove that his regime was better than the regime of new authorities. But in the case when he has no support among the international society and in his own country, so he has no way to fight any more.
And how long do you think the NATO military operation may last in Libya?
I cannot predict the exact date, but I think that the whole summer will be devoted to this operation, because Gaddafi has to fight to show his power, to show his moral qualities, so I think that the summer will be not enough to fight him.