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Civilian authorities had nominal but limited control of the hollowed-out government apparatus, and their tasks during and after the conflict generally fell to self-constituted, disparate militias, exercising power largely without training, supervision, and varying degrees of accountability. In this almost entirely informal environment, terms like corruption lack any real meaning. The transitional government and the democratically elected government and citizens called for prosecutions of Qadhafi regime officials for corruption. Citizen activists attempted to promote energy sector and government transparency. Popular demands for accountability and transparency prompted the interim governments to pursue more open practices, such as televised broadcasts of GNC sessions, although concrete progress on this front was limited at the end of 2013.

Under Qadhafi, the tendency of avaricious regime elites to monopolize the most lucrative market sectors is an economic risk with attendant political consequences. Transparency International's 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index put Libya at 126 among the 180 countries it rated. As a point of reference, Nigeria ranked 121st. The pervasive culture of rent-seeking that had flourished during the lean sanctions period, together with the ostentatious consumerism of the regime elite, does not sit well with the silent majority of Libyans, most of whom remained conservative.

Despite high-profile campaigns designed to draw attention to the issue, corruption remained widespread in Libya. It frequently took the form of openly solicited or thinly veiled requests for valueless intermediation (i.e., rent seeking) or outright payoffs. This could include approvals for basic bureaucratic processes, such as required permits and services provided only by the government. Given the state of bureaucratic inefficiency and low salaries for government employees in Libya, these types of transactions were generally viewed as a necessary part of doing business by local operators. Moreover, there was a general public perception that such interventions were essential to ensure the best pricing, service, etc. This tendency serveed to reinforce the importance of personal connections and insider knowledge in the conduct of day-to-day business operations.

There were no international, regional or NGO "watchdog" organizations present in Libya. Several websites critical of government corruption were operated by Libyan opposition groups located outside of the country. Libya was a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), but there was little evidence of its implementation.

Under Qadhafi, the government established the "Administration and Oversight Board" as the responsible Libyan agency for the oversight of government activities for the prevention of corrupt practices. There was also a public push for transparency on the part of high-ranking government officials. A series of speeches by Muammar al-Qadhafi during late 2006 set out a four-month window for all officials occupying senior government positions to declare all of their earnings and assets or risk unspecified punitive action by the state. In January 2007 this deadline was extended for several months, and there were reports of arrests of leading businessmen on allegations of corrupt practices. Out of 4,600 files of senior government officials that were reviewed, 150 were suspected of corruption, and out of those, 20 were referred to the courts for judicial action. However, there was no clarity as to whether these actions were directly related to Qadhafi's ultimatum. The Libyan leader and his son, Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, did address corruption in broad terms in a number of other public remarks made in 2007 and 2008, and called for greater accountability.

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Page last modified: 23-10-2013 19:12:58 ZULU