In the charter of the Democratic Party of Libya, which you founded, you outline a vision of a secular, open and tolerant society, in which religious freedom should be guaranteed if nothing else. Is Libyan society ready for these ideas and goals?
Ahmed Shebani: In 1969 we missed the chance presented to us by the revolution at the time. It was to a certain extent kidnapped by Gaddafi. He only revealed his true nature once he had consolidated power.
Now we have at last liberated ourselves from the Gaddafi dictatorship, we won't allow the Libyan people to miss their chance again, the chance to build a democratic system in Libya. And I'm very happy that the international community has already sent a delegation to Libya led by Ian Martin, the former secretary general of Amnesty International. We hope that he can help us to establish a democratic order and a constitutional state in Libya.
Why does Libya need this support from outside?
Shebani: No one in the Arab world has the comprehensive political know-how necessary to build a democracy. We don't have this knowledge. Instead of waiting several years trying to reinvent the wheel, we would rather adopt democratic standards and procedures from other countries with substantial experience in such matters. That's why we're asking for help and support from abroad. This can only come from the UN, because the United Nations is not suspected of wanting to control any one country.
The UN should despatch a committee of experts for the purpose of "nation building", as well as a peacekeeping force to be able to deal with increasing security problems. We also need this support from the UN to found a truth commission, in order to be able to investigate the crimes of the Gaddafi regime as well as the numerous human rights violations that took place during the uprising.
Interview by Beat Stauffer; Translated by Nina Coon
[Excerpt—See accompanying URL for full original text]