December 06, 2020
Feature News: Mahmoud Jibril, the Libyan leader who helped overthrow Gaddafi and died of Covid-19
When Mahmoud Jibril stood in Libya’s free elections in 2012 after heading the rebel government that helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, many believed that he could unify the country. Libya, which had then just emerged from a brutal conflict, needed to get back on its feet and Jibril’s supporters felt he was the right man to help steer affairs of the country.
But others were not so enthused about him, considering he had links with Gaddafi. Jibril was an economic advisor to the Gaddafi government in its last years before he joined the revolution in 2011. A few weeks after the uprising began, Jibril was made head of the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC), the interim government that eventually ousted and killed Gaddafi.
Jibril would toward the end of the conflict become the man of the moment in Libya, with his government recognized as the “sole legitimate representative” of Libya by UN states including France, the United Kingdom, the United States, Turkey, and Iran. Indeed, he fulfilled his promise to resign as interim prime minister for the NTC after “Libya’s liberation.”
Becoming the head of the National Forces Alliance, one of the largest political parties in Libya, Jibril contested in the 2012 democratic elections. His party did win the vote but did not grab a majority in parliament. Parliament then chose an independent candidate to become prime minister. Violence broke out again in Libya in subsequent years, and Jibril was forced to leave the country to abroad. Not much was heard from the Libyan leader until this April when his party confirmed that he had died of the coronavirus. The 68-year-old died in Cairo where he had been hospitalized for two weeks after suffering from cardiac arrest. Three days later, he tested positive for coronavirus.
Born in 1952, Jibril graduated in Economics and Political Science from Cairo University in 1975 before earning a master’s degree in political science and a Ph.D. in strategic planning and decision-making from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania. He then taught strategic planning and decision-making at the university for many years and was behind many leadership training programs in several Arab states.
Jibril did write many books and also served as the head of the Libyan National Planning Council. By 2009, he was working with the Gaddafi government as chairman of the National Economic Development Board (NEDB), which was created to stir up investment in Libya. But by the start of 2011, Jibril had defected to the rebel National Transitional Council after engaging in a project aimed at establishing a democratic state.