Libya's road to democracy fraught with disagreement, pitfalls

A Libyan government militiaman guarding the main entrance of the U.S. consulate that was attacked last week, fixes a note written by Libyans against the attack. The poster on the left reads, "No to extremism, no to terrorism in free Libya." (Pho

Last week's deadly attack on the U.S. Embassy in reminded the world just how far that country has to go in its transition to democracy.

To be sure, Libya isn't the only African or Arab country with protests over a video produced in the United States that many Muslims find offensive to their religion for the way it portrays the prophet Muhammad.

The BBC’s Middle East Correspondent, Wyre Davies, returned to Benghazi, the scene of the recent demonstrations and attacks on the U.S. Embassy.

"This has been a remarkable year for this country. There have been successful elections, and the transition to democracy is going remarkably well," Davies said. "But there have been reminders in recent days that the violence is far from over."

In fact, one rebel group, the ultra-conservative, Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group, completely rejects the notion that democracy is a valid form of government for Libya.

Sheikh Mohammad Ali al-Zahawi, the group's leader, said democratic governance doesn't suit Islam.

The Ansar al-Sharia group is suspected of involvement in the attack on the embassy that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens. Some 15 people have been arrested but so far Libyan officials haven't identified them or any affiliation they may have.

"In a city where the police are still mistrusted by many, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack," Davies said.

Libyan officials say the attack won't derail the Libyan people's drive to democracy.

"The overwhelming majority of Libyans clearly support their democratic project," Daives said.

But the country's economy can't be held up on the faith and support of the Libyan people alone.

Libya depends on foreign investment and overseas laborers to keep the wheels turning.

Tagged: United StatesLibyaWyre DaviesMohammad Ali al-ZahawiChris StevensAfrica.