Follow Us

RSS Feed    Follow on Twitter    Follow on Facebook    YouTube Channel    Vimeo Channel    Tumblr    SoundCloud Channel    iPhone App    iPhone App

Eye on the Libyan General National Congress: Second Report

[Eye on the GNC logo. Image from ignc.net.ly] [Eye on the GNC logo. Image from ignc.net.ly]

[The following report was issued by Bokra Youth Organization and H2O Team on 8 February 2013.  This is the second in a year-long series of reports covering the actions of Libya's General National Council. This issue focuses on the period from 20 December 2012 to 15 January 2013. Click here to access the previous report.] 

Eye on the General National Congress: The Second Report

Introduction

The General National Congress (GNC) held the following sessions and hearings: its 49th session on December 23, 2012, its 50th session on December 25, a special hearing on December 26, its 51st session on December 30, its 52nd session on January 1, 2013, its 53rd session January 6, its 54th session on January 8, its 55th session January 13, and its 56th session on January 15.

On Tuesday, December 25 Omar Hemedan (the official spokesperson for the GNC) held a press conference to discuss the latest work and updates from the Congress. Highlights included the presentation of candidates nominated by the prime minister to the posts of Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Welfare of the Families of Martyrs and Missing, and the Ministry of Education. Hemedan also stated that at the December 25 session, GNC members discussed the Marj city floods and plans to take necessary precautions to limit the damages caused by the flood. He spoke too of the subjects on the GNC agenda, including continued efforts toward political exclusion of remnants of the former regime, a subject taken up by the National Integrity Committee. Despite general agreement on the matter within the Congress, there is some variation in points of view, especially regarding the criterion that will be used to administer the political isolation law. Aside from that, a number of parties and individuals in the Congress have made suggestions on how to implement the law, which will be further discussed during GNC sessions.

Other subjects on the agenda have still not been taken up owing to preoccupation with the political isolation law. In an answer to a reporter's question about a 1000 dinar grant approved by the GNC that GNC paperwork from the National Bank of Libya states should be available beginning January 1 2013. Responding to two other questions regarding efforts to make the judiciary more effective, Hemedan stated that it was functioning relatively effectively and if a good plan presented by the Minister of Justice to the Congress was closely followed, it would lead to the full activation and viability of the judicial system.

Laws Approved by the National General Congress: 

  • Political Isolation Law: In the evening session of December 25, 2012, 125 GNC members unanimously voted in favor of the political isolation law and in favor of assembling a committee to adopt the law within two weeks after consulting with the civil community all across the country.
  • Law Banning Usurious Transactions: On the 6th of January 2013 the National general congress approved the law for banning usurious transactions, it bans usurious transactions between individuals and organizations starting from the date it was published in the official paper. However it will be valid over organizations starting in 2015.

Decisions Made by the GNC:

  • Security for GNC Officials: The GNC announced its intention to form a security team in order to protect the wellbeing of the members and locations of GNC meetings, following the demands of a large number of members for such protection. This announcement also came after several public protests condemning recent assaults on GNC members. It also stated that the security force will be armed and ready for action from preventing assaults, breaches and disassembling people. The security force will be financially and otherwise managed by the GNC Commission and under the direct authority of the head of the Congress.
  • Adopting Libya’s Official Name until the Declaration of the Constitution: During the January 8, 2013 session, the Congress settled on officially changing the country's name to "the Country of Libya" to remain until the constitutional declaration expected sometime in 2013. The main reason for changing the name of the country is to end all official transactions with the previous name of Libya created under the former regime. The head of the Congress made this announcement live through official television, stating it was approved unanimously and clarifying that it came in the "temporary government proposal." He pointed out that the government made this change in response to the demands of the citizens and civil society organizations. He noting that the National Transitional Council adopted the name "Libya" in its official transactions from the February 17th revolution in 2011; however the Council continued to use Libya’s former name in many of its official dealings. It is important to mention that many of the GNC members argued about the name and how important it was to add the title "country" to the official name. The head of the Congress stated that the forthcoming 2013 constitutional declaration will determine whether Libya be a republic or remain a kingdom as it previously was.

National General Congress Statements:

  • Welcoming Palestine’s UN Observer Status, Statement by the GNC on December 23, 2012: We, the members of the GNC, have kept a close watch on the progression of central, Arab and Islamic political events related to the Palestinian cause. We announce our complete support for assigning Palestine as a UN observer and consider it an important political step to recover Palestine as part of the Arab and Islamic world, and we thank all allies and European countries that contributed to the success of this project and those who abstained from voting instead of voting against the project. We consider this the start of the awakening of the international conscience to return everything to its rightful owner. We congratulate our Brothers the Palestinians and tell them: We are with you until we free Palestine with any means necessary and may God be with you and not leave you, for He is virtuous and the guiding light.
  • GNC Statement in Response to National Forces Alliance Statement: As a response to a National Forces Alliance statement expressing discontent at the performance of the GNC and the delay in the project of instating a Constituent Assembly (to draft the constitution), the GNC issued a statement on January 8, clarifying that the delay is due to Constitutional Amendment 3 from the year 2012. This amendment included changing the mechanism for the assigning the members of the Assembly from appointment by the GNC to direct election. This is in addition to the GNC’s preoccupation with executive issues after the transitional government withdrew completely and handed its authorities to the Congress.

The head of the Congress also responded to the accusation of certain parties monopolizing the GNC agenda. According to the Subject (10) paragraph (3) of the internal affairs document, scheduling and arranging the agenda for each session was part of the head of the Congress' office's duties, but what caused conflict was paragraph (4) which states that the agenda has to be published in the Congress hall and reported to the members 24 hours before the session. GNC head Mr. Mohamed Magarief stated that the reason this wasn't fully followed is because the offices are understaffed, lacking qualified personal. In conclusion, the statement thanked the National Forces alliance and all political bodies and members of the GNC for their patriotic role in pursuing democracy in Libya and overcoming the obstacles by using constructive communication and following the true essence of democracy.

Summary of General National Congress Sessions:

49th Meeting:

The GNC agenda for the December 23 included a discussion of the following issues:

  • the GNC statement regarding Palestine's UN observer status,
  • a proposal to oblige government officials to present a daily report on the country's security situation,
  • assembling a committee (consisting of parties and independents) for agenda preparation,
  • the proposal presented to build a headquarters for the Libyan parliament,
  • the Ministry of Justice proposal to amend the penal code and military proceedings,
  • the proposal presented from 50 GNC members regarding the assignment of a new head of general staff for the Libyan army,
  • and a legal opinion issued by the Constitutional and Legislative Committee on the assignment of administrative positions.

The GNC also released an official statement on the subject of instating Palestine as a UN observer.

50th Meeting:

The agenda for December 25, 2012:

  • Discussion of the political isolation law.
  • Screening the candidates nominated by the prime minister to the following ministries:
    • Mr. Yousef Mohamed Al Sherif, Minister of Culture
    • Mr. Ali Abu Baker Gadoura, Minister of Welfare of the Families of Martyrs and Missing.
    • Mr. Ali Moftah Abied, Minister of Education
  • Discussion of the project presented by the Minister of Justice regarding the amendment of the penal code and military proceedings.
  • Passing the bill to ban usurious transactions.
  • Presenting a bill on national and citizen security.
  • Discussion of the legal opinion of the Constitutional and Legislative Committee on the assignment of administrative positions.
  • Discussion of the proposal presented by 50 GNC members regarding the assignment of a new head of general staff for the Libyan army.

In this meeting a controversy arose regarding the political isolation law, which has been described by independents as unexpected and confusing. Mr. Faraj—an independent from Marj—insisted that the law should be the first item on the agenda. Mr. Abel Fatah Al Shalwa, a candidate from Dernah, expressed his fear that independents may enter into a battle with the parties, and pointed out the urgency of the seventh item on the agenda (regarding the general staff office) and that no decision had been taken for many sessions.

Mr. Tawfiek Al Shahbi (of the National Forces Alliance) said that there is no disagreement between political parties on the political isolation law as a means of insuring transitional justice with regards to the matter of isolating the behavior and not the people. Al Shahbi clarified that his party has a vision for a draft proposal, and considered the possibility of protests stirring public opinion. He also mentioned the protests by a number of citizens in front of the GNC headquarters demanding the Congress pass the political isolation bill and purge the judiciary. The protestors set up camp and put up signs with statements that were pro-political isolation.

Four proposals for the political isolation bill were presented by four different parties (Justice and Construction, the National Forces Alliance, the Union for Homeland, and the National Front). The periods suggested for the political isolation were different in each proposal; some suggested that the law should be applied to those who used to work with the former regime and those who reconciled with it over the last ten years, while others stated that it should be applied to all those who collaborated with the former regime between 1969 through the February 17 revolution. A long debate took place during this session. Deputy Hagar Al Gayed of the National Forces Alliance said that if political isolation is desired, then all of those who are linked to the former regime should be isolated, including those that held positions in the regime who were responsible in part for the massacres, even if they did not participate.

Outcome of this Political Isolation Law Discussion: 125 GNC members unanimously voted in support of the political isolation bill and for the formation of a congressional committee to consult with civil society regarding the legislation within a two-week time frame.

Special Session held on December 26, 2012:

Mr. Gomaa Atega apologized on the behalf of the national steering committee by presenting a rough draft of the political isolation bill. The first deputy's apology came after some members complained that one of the deputies was going to head the committee. The second deputy also apologized, stating he would not be accepting the position of head committee if it was offered to him and mentioned the controversy surrounding the assembly of the committee within the GNC walls after some parties expressed the fear that it would be tailored to individual interests. Despite some members demanding independents be included in the committee, Mr. Ahmed Tawfiek Yacoub (an independent from Zawyiah) pointed out that independents are also linked to political parties and are part of other political bodies, which became apparent during government negotiations. He stated that including independents is only an illusion that will not fool anyone. Note: only the first segment of the session was aired live.

Regarding the above matter: On January 1, 2013 Mr. Ibrahim Al Sahed pointed out that there are some people who belong to the former regime that still occupy offices in the country. He hinted that they have formed a network in some critical positions and hinder the development of those institutions. He also pointed out that the GNC has not taken the initiative, but the public did.

On the same day, Mr. Nabil Al Sokni (official spokesman) made a statement on behalf of the Libyan Humans Rights Organization demanding the GNC pass on the rough draft of the political isolation law for review by civil society organizations before the law is approved. He told the Al Tadamon News Agency that the period of exclusion "should be 42 years, the same amount of time that Qaddafi practiced dictatorial repression on those who refused to work with his regime and corrupted Libya." Al Sokni also demanded that the law not be a copy of Italian code written on English paper with an American stamp of quality (as he described it).

51st Meeting:

The agenda for December 30, 2012:

  • Screening the candidates nominated by the prime minister for the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Welfare of the Families of Martyrs and Missing, and Ministry of Education.
  • Discussion of the project presented by the Minister of Justice regarding the amendment of the penal code and military proceedings.
  • Passing the bill to ban usurious transactions.
  • Presenting a bill on national and citizen security.
  • Discussion of the legal opinion of the Constitutional and Legislative Committee on the assignment of administrative positions.

Discussion of the proposal presented by 50 GNC members regarding the assignment of a new head of general staff for the Libyan army.

52nd Meeting:

The agenda for January 1, 2013:

  • A summary of minutes from previous sessions (50 and 51).
  • Screening the candidates nominated by the prime minister for the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Welfare of the Families of Martyrs and Missing, and Ministry of Education.
  • Discussion of the project presented by the Minister of Justice regarding the amendment of the penal code and military proceedings.
  • Passing the bill to ban usurious transactions.
  • Presenting a bill on national and citizen security.
  • Discussion of the legal opinion of the Constitutional and Legislative Committee on the assignment of administrative positions.
  • Discussion of the proposal presented by 50 GNC members regarding the assignment of a new head of general staff for the Libyan army.

In this session, 68 out of 126 present members voted that the assignment of administrative positions be left to specific committees. GNC member Mohamed Amari clarified that the committees should evaluate individual candidates objectively and call them for hearings, also stating "the committees should make a detailed evaluation so that the GNC can make an informed decision based on the report to either keep the candidate or choosing an alternative candidate." He pointed out that "In the case of changing the candidate deliberations with the respective ministries for alternative candidates should take place within two weeks," noting that the following "administrative positions are under the GNC's authority: Attorney General, Chief of Staff, Governor of the Central Bank of Libya, President of the Court of Accounts, Director of Intelligence, Head of the Supreme Court, Chairman of the Integrity Commission and the Head of the Anti-Corruption Commission, as well as ambassadors and representatives of Libya in foreign missions."

National Forces Alliance Withdrawal: In an unprecedented development, the National Forces Alliance left the session abruptly after the GNC specific committee decision; their proposal of 50 signatories to hire the head of affairs had been refused. A statement from the Alliance released on January 6 stated that they left the session because of the delay in forming the 60th commission (which had already exceeded the period suggested in the constitutional announcement) and that they were only concerned with developing an agenda for the GNC, generally causing havoc and weakening the committees due to disregard of the committees' assignments and recklessness in their decisions in regards to GNC security, which resulted in regular breaches of the GNC headquarters and assaults against its members, and finally, a delay in crediting the internal list for the sessions.

Alliance member Ibrahim Al Gheriani also demanded that the Head of the GNC take action to establish his credibility and affirm his dedication. Al Gheriani stated that the Alliance believes the Head of the GNC is overreaching, and has made autonomous decisions. He added that the position of Secretary of Defense is not exclusive to the head of the GNC, but is a shared role.

Mr. Al Gheriani was baffled by the statement released on Tuesday on behalf of the head of state in response to the Alliance's criticism. The Head of the GNC stated: "the Alliance should have stayed in the meeting and participated instead of simply leaving." Mr. Al Gheriani added that the report only addressed general concerns, stating that the Alliance has the right to their opinion and to voice their criticism as well as leaving. He contended that all the Alliance's demands were reasonable but that the Head of the GNC was unable to follow through. Al Gheriani demanded that the process of electing the sixtieth commission should be expedited, and an apology made for the delay, calling the GNC to debate the criteria for the sixtieth commission in their next meeting.

A number of protestors gathered outside the halls of the GNC headquarters and demanded the expedition of the political isolation law to include all of those who worked with Gaddafi during the four decades he was in power, regardless of their positions on the February 17 revolution, confident that such a measure would ensure the success of the revolution. The protestors insisted that administrative isolation is the first step to political isolation and that can be done by purging the Integrity Commission and prosecuting the corrupt.

53rd Meeting:

The agenda for January 6, 2013:

  • Passing the bill to ban usurious transactions.
  • Discussion of the project presented by the Minister of Justice regarding the amendment of the penal code and military proceedings.

Screening the candidates nominated by the prime minister for the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Welfare of the Families of Martyrs and Missing, and Ministry of Education.

Passage of Law Banning Usurious Transactions: It is worthy of mentioning that in this meeting the GNC passed the law for banning usurious transactions after it had been edited by the specific related committees. The legislation must be followed from the date it was released until a new law is mandated (by the start of 2015). A 106 majority of votes approved the legislation, out of the possible 110 present.

54th Meeting:

The agenda for January 8, 2013:

  • Discussion of the project presented by the Minister of Justice regarding the amendment of the penal code and military proceedings.
  • Discussion of the statement released by the National Forces Alliance regarding their withdrawal from the meeting and the GNC position on that withdrawal.
  • Presenting the Debt Commission's proposal to implement conditions as part of the GNC agenda.
  • Presenting the prime minister's proposal on naming Libya (the country of Libya) until the constitution is put into place.

55th Meeting:

The agenda for January 13, 2013.

  • The Head of the GNC gave a briefing on his visit to the republic of Italy.
  • The Minister of the Interior presented briefly requesting approval on the recommendations for a dialogue in Benghazi.
  • Presenting the proposal by 28 members on the transitional government.

56th Meeting:

The agenda for January 15, 2013:

  • The Head of the National Election Commission spoke on the expectations for assembling a committee to carry out the constitution project.
  • Presenting the proposal of the 28 members on the transitional government.
  • Mr. Moataz Fathi Al Khouga (candidate for the Minister of GNC Affairs) took his oath in front of the Congress.
  • Presenting the internal affairs' vision about the minister of internal affairs' book.

Mr. Nori Al Abari (Head of the National Election Commission) was hosted by the GNC and discussed some of the difficulties they have had to address during the election process and the mechanism of future elections for the sixtieth commission. Some members asked Mr. Al Abari questions on previous and upcoming elections. Mr. Al Abari stated that it is difficult to establish a time line for the election process, and that the commission currently has no authority over the decision.

Mister Al Mgarief directed a question to Mr. AlAbari, stating that the third amendment of the constitutional declaration approved by the National Transitional Council that the sixtieth commission is elected instead of appointed does not that mean that the time frame set for the declaration won't be met? based on what Mr.AlAbari said about the difficulty of setting a time frame for the election, Mr.Al Mgarief's -head of the GNC- question was "since the time frame for the election process is hard to determine, doesn't that mean that the entire political process is untimed and thus can be stretched and that it is unfair to hold the GNC accountable for for the time frame they have to commit to for the declaration?"

In that same context, one GNC member stated that the amendment of the constitutional declaration itself is not correct and that it occurred due to the lack of legal stability which the amendment requires. He asserted that the declaration should be returned its original format, which including the appointing of constituent assembly members rather than their electing. The declaration was indeed amended two days before GNC elections took place on July 5, 2012, which caused some political actors to protest what they perceived as a sudden change in extra time.

Sources:

  • NGC's press office's official Facebook page
  • Eltadamon News Agency
  • Lana News (Libyan news agency)
  • GNC Meetings aired live through National TV

[Click here to download the full report.]

[Click here to download the report in Arabic.]

If you prefer, email your comments to info@jadaliyya.com.

Jad Navigation

View Full Map, Topics, and Countries »
You need to upgrade your Flash Player

Top Jadaliyya Tags

Get Adobe Flash player

Jadaliyya Features

Pages/Sections

Archive