As the euphoria subsides and the task of rebuilding Libya begins, the disparate rebel groups that overthrew Muammar Qaddafi are about to discover whether anything more unites them other than their hatred of the fallen dictator.
Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, where the army took over control after the ousting of Zein Elabidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, Libyans are waking up to the reality of what they are left with -- a country awash with guns, armed rebels ruling the streets and no viable state institutions, police force or army to hold the country together.
The first priority of the National Transitional Council (NTC), analysts say, is to get the guns and garbage off the streets and restore basic services such as water, electricity and communications.
The capital of two million is left with no effective political or security leadership. NTC leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil has yet to arrive to Tripoli to assume the command.
“There are lots of uncertainties on the way. The rebels fought and won their own liberation and that's tremendous but things can go wrong. There could be lots of errors and mistakes on the way,” said George Joffe, a Libya expert at Cambridge University.
“A measure of the council success is how quickly it dissolves itself. There are disparate voices on the council that may cause problems,” he added.
After getting Libya on its feet, the really difficult task of knitting together a country Qaddafi kept atomized begins and the question is whether Jalil is up to the task.
“The real question is whether the council has effective control and how quickly they can set up the interim government. An awful lot hangs on rebel leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil. If he can provide the leadership it will work. If he can't there will be problems,” Joffe told Reuters.
Now the rebels, a melange of ex-Qaddafi officials, businessmen, dissidents in exile, must act swiftly to create what they had promised Libyans, a modern state that would compensate for what they never had -- a democratic country with the rule of law and a strong government.
“It is not a question of Libya breaking up into factions but how to create a viable administration that keeps the country together,” Joffe said.
Over the four decades of his autocratic rule, Qaddafi has destroyed all institutional life and prevented the emergence of all alternative centers of power, using his government as a facade to rubber stamp his decisions and policies.
Libya watchers believe for the NTC to succeed it must quickly establish a government that is inclusive and representative of all the rebels from Jabal Nafusa, Misrata, Zawya who spearheaded the push into Tripoli and the toppling of Gaddafi on August 23.
Libyan political analyst Mustafa Fetouri foresaw problems ahead.
“The current council will not be able to lead the country through a successful and short transitional period. It lacks vision, it lacks legitimacy and effective power on the ground.”
“Those who have legitimacy are the people who fought and unfortunately those people are not coming from well experienced political background. They are naive politically. Their main aim was to get rid of Qaddafi,” he added.
Jalil, who is trying to present his interim council as a credible temporary alternative to Gaddafi, said the council will work on holding elections after drafting the constitution, which he expects will take place in one year at most.
Potential problems include the rivalry between opposition leaders who remained in Libya and those returning from exile, as well as resistance from rebels in the Western Mountains to reconcile or work with former Qaddafi functionaries in a post-Qaddafi government.
“I don’t think there is a dominant force. All these tribes in the east, west and south, have come together to get rid of the regime,” Joffe said.
“On the army and security forces, they are not going to do another Iraq and disband the forces,” he said, referring to the dissolution of Iraq's military after Saddam’s overthrow.
On the ground, the rebels are under pressure to deal with what is shaping up to be a humanitarian crisis.
Corpses of fighters and civilians killed in the Battle of Tripoli are decomposing on the streets in scorching heat, awaiting local volunteers to bury them in mass graves.
Mounds of rotten rubbish litter the streets with the overpowering stench filling the air. Most menial workers from other African countries who collected the garbage have long fled or stopped showing to work.
In some neighborhoods, the rebels and residents have helped organize garbage collection and burning. They also set up a task force to bury the dead.
The capital remains tense and shut with people still not venturing out. Prices of food are sky-rocketing with prices for items doubling.
Many Libyans are alarmed at the amount of weapons in the city and the sight of gung-ho rebels brandishing rifles, manning checkpoints and patrolling the streets.
“The widespread presence of guns without any regulation, at random and in the hands of whoever is the big impediment that faces the council,” said Feitouni.
Mahmoud Shammam of the NTC on Sunday announced measures to tackle shortages of water, fuel and medicines and deploy police on the streets within weeks but said there was no magic wand.
“Tripoli was under the tight control of the dictatorship for 42 years. We are starting from point zero. We cannot make miracles, but we promise to try to make this difficult period as short as we can,” Shammam told Reuters.
While the focus is on rebuilding a traumatized country from scratch, the fate of the fugitive Qaddafi seems less relevant.
“He is not a priority,” Shammam said. “He’s running from place to place. We’re going to get Qaddafi, we are following him and we’re going to find him but we’re not going to stop everything waiting for the capture of Qaddafi or his sons.”