Libyans not keen on democracy, suggests survey

Libyans celebrate the capture of Saif al-Islam, fugitive son and one-time heir apparent of murdered leader Muammar Gaddafi, in the capital Tripoli on November 19, 2011. A strong leader is needed - but Libyans say they should have a say

Many Libyans prefer strong leadership to democracy despite four decades spent under the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, a national survey suggests.

Just 15% of 2,000 people polled by academics from Benghazi and Oxford universities said democracy should be installed in the next year.

More than 40% backed strong leadership from one person or a group.

However, almost a third of those polled said they would like a democratic government in five years' time.

Despite the majority saying they wanted to see a firm hand in control, 69% also said they believed ordinary citizens should have a say in how Libya develops.

And some 16% of people said they were prepared to resort to violence for political ends.

The researchers say this would mean around 630,000 potential fighters - in addition to the 280,000 people who took up arms against the Gaddafi regime.

Oxford University's Dr Christoph Sahm said the survey suggested Libyans lacked the knowledge of how democracy works.

"This survey also reveals there is potential for future instability as a significant minority have indicated that they would be prepared to take up arms," he said.

But he added that the results painted a largely optimistic picture for Libya, with more than three quarters of people believing that their lives would be much better in 12 months' time.

Nearly four fifths said their interest in politics had increased since the revolution - which began a year ago in the eastern city of Benghazi and ended when Gaddafi was killed in October.

The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Tripoli says the survey paints a picture of a country that is hugely optimistic about its future, but retains some of the habits of its past.

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