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Celebrations Marks The End Of Gadhafi's Life


And we turn now to and we turn now to Vivienne Walt in Tripoli. She writes for Time magazine and joins us now.

Good morning.

VIVIENNE WALT: Good morning.

SHAPIRO: What's the scene in Tripoli this morning?

WALT: Well, I think everybody is sleeping over a hangover at the moment.


WALT: A nonalcoholic hangover, of course. But it was one hell of a party last night. There were fireworks, ships blaring their horns, gunfire in the air, cars honking all night. And lots and lots of people - thousands gathering with rebel flags and pictures of people who have been killed in the eight-month war.

SHAPIRO: All of this marking the end of Gadhafi, and there are conflicting reports, this morning, about exactly how he met his end. What can you tell us?

WALT: Well, the official version was given to me by the prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, who I interviewed last night, and he gives a fairly sanitized version which is that Gadhafi was accidentally shot in the arm, and while he was being carried to an ambulance by rebel fighters, he was then accidentally killed in the crossfire that broke out in a firefight.

This seems to be contradicted by a lot of the cell phone video that is coming out, which shows a lot of people manhandling his body, both wounded and after he was killed.

SHAPIRO: Does that suggest larger instability that could be a problem as Libya moves forward?

WALT: You know, it could Ari, but on the other hand, a lot of people you speak to here are in a sense relieved that he was killed and not put on trial. They're used to Gadhafi being an actor with a lot of theatrical flourish, and that is what they imagined a trial would be, whether it was in Libya or in an international court of justice.

And I think even at the top levels, there is a sense of relief that he's simply out of the picture at this point. So I wouldn't draw too direct of line between the violence of his last few hours and what might happen from here on out.

SHAPIRO: How unified is the country at this moment? Are there any remaining Gadhafi strongholds, now that Gadhafi himself is gone?

WALT: It does not appear that Gadhafi has any remaining strength left, even in the desert areas down south. He really has gone. Of course there might be enough nostalgia which emerges if the transition and rebuilding does not go well.

SHAPIRO: After months of conflict bordering on civil war, how does the Transitional National Council hope to patch together some sort of unified Libya?

WALT: Well, you know, they are going to have to form a national army, that is one of the most difficult and urgent things that they need to do. Nothing has really held this country together for decades, other than Gadhafi, which held it together by force.

But Libya was never really a cohesive nation. It was always a nation of different tribes and different regions, and now with Gadhafi gone, those kinds of regional rifts and schisms have really come to the surface again. You have the east versus west, the Berbers versus Arabs, the Muslims versus the secular people. And this is going to be very, very difficult to knit together in any kind of cohesive way.

SHAPIRO: And is there any sense of what role the international community will play in that effort going ahead?

WALT: Well, I think there's no doubt that of course the NATO countries would like to have some prominent role in making sure that this is a real democracy after all of this.

However, I don't think that the Libyans themselves, whether it be on the official level or just regular citizenry, feels that kind of commitment towards the West.

In fact, on the contrary, they see the West as having a lot of very compromising deals over the last few years with Gadhafi. And so it's really up for grabs at this point. I would say nobody really owns the future Libya.

SHAPIRO: That's Vivienne Walt, Time magazine's correspondent in Tripoli. Thanks for talking with us.

WALT: You're welcome.


And the U.N. Human Rights Office has asked for an investigation into exactly how Moammar Gadhafi died. Video footage that has gone viral on the web shows the deposed leader wounded, but alive, in the moments following his capture. There are questions about exactly how he died.

SHAPIRO: And Libya's Transitional National Council has announced it will delay the burial of Moammar Gadhafi for a few days, but insists that the former leader will receive a proper Muslim funeral. According to tradition, the burial should happen today, within 24 hours of death. You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.