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“We Woke Up and Everything Had Gone to Qadhafi”

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Corruption, Rent-Seeking, and Struggle for Elite Status During Libyan Property Disputes

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Since the 2011 revolution claimants in Libya have been lobbying to demand reinstatement of property confiscated from their families by Qadhafi under Law 4/1978. During this campaign they have forcefully argued that they have been impoverished and sidelined as victims of corruption. In particular, they highlight how their property enriched and empowered the Qadhafi regime’s corrupt elites as it was redistributed as a form of state controlled ‘rent’. However, in making this argument they have tried to limit retrospective evaluations of property rights to the Qadhafi period, preventing investigation of their own families’ accumulation of property under the Italian occupation or the monarchy. Property claimants’ preferred solution is for the democratically elected government to enforce property restitution and to allocate state funds for compensation and for housing construction. The prospects for this are not good. In post-revolutionary Libya powerful militia have made land and property grabs, and other post-revolutionary elites are accused of engaging in corruption, in a continuing threat to property claimants’ future political and economic status.

Affiliations: 1: School of Law, University of Manchester Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, London,


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