Celebrating Life In Post-Gadhafi Libya

The first steps toward a post-Gadhafi government are under way in Libya.

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GUY RAZ, host: In Libya, eight months after they began their uprising against Moammar Gadhafi, the country's new leaders are ready to say they are officially liberated. The interim government, the Transitional National Council, says it will make the announcement tomorrow in the eastern city of Benghazi, the birthplace of their revolution. NPR's Grant Clark reports from eastern Libya.

(SOUNDBITE OF SIREN)

GRANT CLARK: The sounds of a celebration, decades in the making. Libyans have been taking to the streets of major cities, reveling in the news of Gadhafi's death Thursday and the fall of his hometown, Sirte. Over the past two days, they've lined up in their thousands to view the former dictator's blood-streaked corpse, on display in a cold storage room in a Misrata market.

For many Libyans like Mustafa Hassam, his death is a relief. It brings hope for a new start.

MUSTAFA HASSAM: I believe that it's a good thing that he is killed because by killing him, we can close everything and there's no more talking.

CLARK: But exactly when, and by whom, Gadhafi was killed is clouding tomorrow's declaration of liberation. TNC accounts of his death and conflicting amateur cellphone videos have prompted calls by the United Nations Human Rights Commission and others for an investigation. Summary executions and extra-judicial killings are illegal under international law.

The official end of the civil war also marks the beginning of a new political phase. Interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril says the TNC will name a transitional government soon. They'll get to work on drafting a new constitution and plans for elections in about eight months time.

Another distraction for Libya's new leaders: where to bury the former dictator? Islamic custom requires burial within 24 hours of death. But more than two days later, there is still no decision. Jibril says the delay is to allow for an autopsy and a probe into Gadhafi's death. The fugitive leader was killed after being captured by government militiamen. But there's also a fight within the revolutionary movement over the location of the grave.

The end of Libya's revolution also brings an end to NATO forces' involvement in the conflict. The alliance plans to wrap up its mission here by the end of the month.

Grant Clark, NPR News, Misrata.

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