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Thursday October 20, 2011 | 03:14 PM

Maine lawmakers are hailing news of the death of former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi as a big step toward democracy, even as they note the challenges that remain for the struggling nation.

“The reported death of Moammar Gadhafi marks a seminal moment in Libya’s fight to break free of a regime that has brutalized the country for over 40 years,” said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a member of the Senate intelligence committee. 

But Snowe called Libya a country “devoid of strong governing institutions and whose economy and population are devastated by decades of repression.  With great change underway, it is vital that Libya’s new leaders come together in support of an orderly transition from the destructive Gadhafi era, allowing for far greater transparency, distribution of power, and respect for human rights.”

Snowe said the international community must work to secure Gadhafi’s weapons stockpiles and called on the Arab League and other countries with much at stake in the region to, “Show leadership in making the financial commitment necessary to bring about such stability.”

Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that Gadhafi’s regime ended the same way it began: “with violence.”

Pingree said that, “There are still some big challenges ahead for the Libyan people, but I’m very hopeful that they will have a bright and peaceful future.”

Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd,  said in a statement that, “I’m hopeful this gives the people of Libya a chance to move away from the tyrannical rule they’ve been under for so long and toward a more democratic form of government. While there remains a lot of work ahead, the Libyan people now have the chance to write the next chapter in their country’s story.”

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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