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Libya can now reimagine itself

With Qaddafi no longer in control after a six-month civil war, Libyans can finally begin to create an identity based on the ideals of democratic citizenship.

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Three down (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya) and many more to go.

That’s the country-count for successful revolutions in Arab countries since January.

Libya has been the most hard-fought – a civil war, not civilian-led protests. But after six months of fighting and an aerial assist from NATO, Muammar Qaddafi’s effective rule over Libya “has come to an end,” as President Obama said Monday.

Now for the most difficult part.

As the pro-democracy rebels led by the National Transitional Council (NTC) expand their control over the capital, Tripoli, they will need to forge a new Libyan identity – one not based on the empty nationalism of Pan-Arabism, common geography, shared history, or even Islam.

No, to avoid this North African nation splintering along tribal lines or to prevent another dictator, Libyans must reimagine themselves as citizens.

That means realizing they can share common values embedded in a constitution that creates stable institutions based on inclusive elections, free media, impartial justice, and civilian rule over a unified military.

Libyans are off to a good start. The NTC has already issued an interim constitution, announced policies of national reconciliation, and set up plans to prevent revenge violence.

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