Libya Prepares for First Post-Gadhafi Vote

Transitional Govt. Builds Prisons to Prep for Political Detentions

As Libyans prepare to go to the polls this weekend for the first post-Gadhafi vote, the public rhetoric from the National Transitional Council (NTC) is all about the milestone and the transformative power of democracy.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of where Libya is going as a nation isn’t being talked about so much. On the outskirts of Tajura the NTC is throwing massive amounts of money (an estimated $40 million, enormous given their limited budget) building a major new prison.

A massive complex, “not for common criminals,” but rather to deal with the various collections of “detainees” held for political reasons by the assorted militias across the nation.

This round of elections is to appoint the General National Congress, putting together the interim government and preparing a panel to draft a new constitution for the country.

After the elections, it is likely that new classes of Libyans, who backed the losing sides in the election, will also find themselves under scrutiny for disloyalty and subject to such open-ended captivity. At least the reports are that the cells are spacious.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.