[The following report was issued by Bokra Youth Organization and H2O Team on 9 March 2013. This is the fifth in a year-long series of reports covering the actions of Libya`s General National Council. This issue focuses on the period from 15 February to 1 March 2013. Click here to access the previous report.]
Eye on the General National Congress: Fifth Report
These sessions preceded the second anniversary of the February 17 Libyan Revolution. The level of General National Congress activity was notably higher than the previous monitoring period; the GNC held four meetings followed by complementary sessions, and also issued a number of statements, resolutions, and laws. The main topics that the GNC addressed included: the political isolation law, the storming of the Congress`s main hall, providing grants to Libyan families, and forming a constituent committee to draft the constitution.
Summary of GNC Sessions
On Thursday 19 February 2013, the GNC discussed the GNC president`s proposal to provide reparations to families on the occasion of the second anniversary of the revolution. Some members objected to the presentation of the proposal to the people before other options had been considered. They argued that the Libyan people deserve more than grants, and that the government should direct its efforts to funding development projects and providing loans to young people rather than giving grants to those who may not deserve it.
GNC member Shereef Alwaddi explained that GNC President Mohammed Maqrif made the proposal with the support of only seventeen GNC members, without considering the opinions of the rest of the members of the GNC. Alwaddi pointed out that the members` refusal to approve the grant resulted from the lack of a clear design to implement the proposal as well as more in-depth research, and he contended that the effort would be a waste of public money. He reiterated that the money should be used for development projects and to provide job opportunities to young people. Asma Sreeba, a GNC member from the Alliance of National Forces, stated that she supports providing the Libyan people with decent livelihoods, but does not advocate fabricated solutions that act as tranquilizers.
Some members of the GNC who may be impacted by the political isolation law, including both Mohammed Maqrif and Mohammed Swayhli, stated that they are ready to apply this law to themselves, as it is part of the continuing struggle towards advancement. GNC member Zeinab Haron El-Targui of the Alliance of National Forces asserted that taking time to discuss the political isolation law hinders national reconciliation, and noted that it would have been better to discuss the Local Government Act instead because it is more critical for ordinary citizens. El-Targui felt that it would have been more worthwhile to reunify the Libyans by achieving transitional justice rather than discuss the law of political isolation.
The session on 23 February 2013 was dedicated to concluding discussion of the draft political isolation law so voting may begin. The law articles will be voted on individually, paragraph by paragraph, and each needs to be ratified by 120 votes. After the completion of the voting the GNC will discuss the issue of exceptions.
On Wednesday, 20 February 2013 the GNC agenda included continued discussion and reactions to the draft political isolation law (GNC No. 2 of 2013). A copy of the law was published on the official GNC webpage.
GNC vice president, Selah El Makhzoum, presided over the session. He took note of the resentment and annoyance of GNC members at working in a rented conference room in a hotel hall, and mandated they return to the main conference hall.
El Makhzoum added that the GNC was forced to rent the Rixos Hotel hall to conduct their meetings owing to the presence of handicapped revolutionaries protesting at the GNC hall. He explained that the GNC communicated with the protestors via GNC delegate Abdulrahman Al-Shater, and that the government has already pledged to fulfill their needs and has signed two agreements with them that fulfill their demands. El Makhzoum commented that they were surprised after Abdulrahman Al-Shater stated in a press that the protestors rejected these agreements and refused to leave the hall. El-Makhzoum remarked upon the confusion of some GNC members at the fact that the protestors did not demonstrate in front of the government given that their demands were executive rather than legislative. GNC member Mohamed Lamari noted after the evening session that the GNC had authorized security to clear out the main conference hall after the government agreed to protestor demands. Lamari concluded by saying that there is no reason now for protestors to remain inside the conference hall and security will begin to remove people in the next two days.
Journalist Mahmoud Shammam commented on the political isolation law, stating "We need two, not only one, in order to build a modern and a fair state." He explained that protection of the state requires political action, not legal action, in order to cleanse the state; both from those who transgressed in the forty-two years of the previous regime, and those who have transgressed against the state in the past two years, should receive fair judicial punishment.
Shammam pointed out the need to develop a clear apparatus for disciplining wrongdoers that addresses the constitution and elections. He suggested that they begin with the political isolation law and target GNC, government, and security leaders, military leaders and diplomats, media, and financial officials. Shammam warned of the dangers of engaging in an all-out battle without establishing a clear mechanism to prevent the political isolation law from turning into a tool for political revenge.
On Sunday, 24 February 2013 the GNC: ratified minutes from sessions 63-65, reviewed the constitutional amendment draft submitted by the constitutional and legislative committee on the political isolation law, reviewed a draft law on the establishment of the electoral commission submitted by the legislative and legal committee, and twenty-four members presented a bill demanding equitable distribution of a financial grant of the Interim Transitional National Council (what became the GNC). Discussion also took place over the suspension of sending GNC members on foreign missions until the completion of the formation of the constitution committee.
A big debate followed, and Prime Minister Ali Zaidan, Minister of State Moez Khoja, and Major General Yussif Almngosh were summoned to discuss the deteriorating GNC security situation regarding the continuation of break-ins which have hindered the progress of the GNC, as well as attacks against GNC members. It should be noted that GNC security is the responsibility of the president. The government and their departments are not responsible, except in the case of a decision issued by the government to secure the headquarters of the GNC to enable them to continue their work, which has yet to happen.
On Tuesday, 26 February 2013 the GNC met to discuss recommendations of the foreign affairs committee to appoint ambassadors to Panama, Bahrain, Germany, Oman, and Austria. The social justice draft law was also presented, and the finance committee submitted a proposal regarding the disbursement of grants to Libyan families on the occasion of the approaching Eid al-Adha holiday. The finance committee also reported on the state budget for fiscal year 2013.
GNC spokesman Omar Hmaidan held a press conference and talked about the social justice draft law project. Some of its provisions address rights violations suffered by the Libyans under the previous regime during the revolution and during the transition. The law would also require the creation of a fact-finding committee as well as a fund to provide compensation to victims. An administrative department will also be charged with ensuring accountability.
Kamal Bashir Al-Dahan, president of the higher court, announced the constitutional chamber of the higher court`s ruling that amendment No.3 (2012) because article 30 of the provisional proclamation is unconstitutional. The verdict will be published in the official newspaper. As constitutional amendment No. 3 (2012) was nullified, it will no longer impact the GNC`s selection of a committee to draft a constitution.
Decisions issued by the General National Congress
- Decision No. 16 (2013) enables presidential security to take all necessary measures to clear the GNC hall of protestors.
- Decision No. 17 (2013) temporarily prohibits GNC members from being sent abroad until the election of a constituent committee to draft a constitution.
Laws issued by the General National Congress
- Law No. 2 (2013) ratified the International Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (issued in 2006), with a provisional stipulation; the first paragraph of article 25 of this convention cannot violate Islamic law.
- Law No. 3 (2013) is an amendment of some provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act (2/24/2013) and regulation articles (187 a and b).
- Law No. 4 (2013) addresses the needs of handicapped revolutionaries. The law defines handicaps and classifies victims in different categories based upon the type of disability, and provides a range of monetary and non-monetary benefits, including healthcare and transportation, and disability insurance. The law also mandates the formation of a temporary committee in charge of implementation, affiliated with the Ministry of the Welfare of the Families of Martyrs and Missing.
Statements from the General National Congress
The GNC issued a statement on 20 February 2013 which addressed the continued occupation of the GNC hall by wounded revolutionaries. It stated that there were numerous attempts by several parties to end the sit-in. It also noted that the GNC had heard the demands of the protestors, and passed a law that guarantees their rights and meets their demands. The statement added that the GNC feels several parties are seeking to disrupt their work, especially given that the GNC had made a decision to initiate the election of a constituent body, as stated in the constitutional proclamation. The statement also discussed the political isolation law; the lack of passage will hinder the extraction of corruption and spoil political, economic, and social development.
- Live broadcasts of GNC sessions
- Official website of the GNC
- GNC Facebook page
- Libyan News Agency
- Libyan Newspapers
- Various Facebook pages of members and parties in the GNC
[Click here to download the full report.]
[Click here to download the report in Arabic.]