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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid