News / Middle East

Constitution Delay Frustrates Libyans

Libyan follower of Ansar al-Shariah Brigades chants as he carries the Brigades flag, with Arabic writing that reads, "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger, Ansar al-Shariah," during a protest in front of the Tibesti Hotel, in Benghazi,
Libyan follower of Ansar al-Shariah Brigades chants as he carries the Brigades flag, with Arabic writing that reads, "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger, Ansar al-Shariah," during a protest in front of the Tibesti Hotel, in Benghazi,
Diplomats were urging Libya’s new rulers as long ago as last summer to move quickly on deciding the process for drafting a new constitution. But six months after the country held an election in July, the first one in half-a-century, nothing has happened.

Slow process

Libyans are frustrated by the slow pace of change in the country and say the delay on the constitution isn’t helping the central government to persuade tens of thousands of rebel militiamen to lay down their arms. 

One of the biggest holdups on deciding how to go about writing a new Libyan constitution is disagreement about whether the members of a 60-strong drafting panel should be elected or appointed by the country’s new parliament, the General National Congress.

Another is that politicians can’t agree on how to make the process inclusive to ensure that Libya’s three regions - and women - have an opportunity to shape the constitution.

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a German member of the European Parliament who headed an observation team to Libya, says speed is now important.

"The decision on the procedure for the selection of the members of the constitutional committee must urgently be  made. The continued success of the transitional Libya depends on this committee’s work," he said.

No representation

Libyans celebrate one year on since the country was declared liberated from former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, at Martyrs Square in Tripoli, Oct. 23, 2012.
Libyans celebrate one year on since the country was declared liberated from former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, at Martyrs Square in Tripoli, Oct. 23, 2012.
Women fear they will have little influence on a draft constitution that has to be voted on in a referendum before it can become the law of the land. They are insisting they have fair representation on any drafting panel, however it is chosen.

"We therefore believe that it should be inclusive and that means having women on the committee. We believe that is the best way to arrive at a constitution that commands the broad support of all sections of society," said Lambsdorff.

Diplomats and international legal experts say for the process to be inclusive there must be plenty of time for Libyans to have a chance to make their views known to the panel - and that alone could take three months.

“The more pragmatic way is to organize a broad public consultation process prior to the official start of the committee’s work. That public consultation process could easily be three months and would allow regional interests to be voiced, civil society interests to be voiced and women’s interests to be voiced," said Lambsdorff.

Egyptian example

Women activists warn that Libya’s government should not follow the example of President Mohamed Morsi in neighboring Egypt, where a rushed process led to accusations of a lack of inclusiveness and prompted a violent standoff last year.

Former Tripoli school principal and political activist Lutfia al- Tabib says some Libyan men claim they know about women’s rights and what’s best for women. She disputes a notion that there don’t have to be women on the committee.

"At least 35 percent of the committee should be women," she said.

Women parliamentarians have now formed a cross-party bloc with the aim of ensuring fair female representation on the constitutional drafting committee. But the extent of their participation remains in hot debate.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid