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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid