[The following report was issued by Bokra Youth Organization and H2O Team on 22 April 2013. This is the sixth in a year-long series of reports covering the actions of Libya`s General National Council. This issue focuses on the period from 1 March to 15 March 2013. Click here to access the previous report.]
Eye on the Libyan General National Congress: Sixth Report
The General National Congress held two sessions in this period and primarily discussed the political isolation law and the finance committee’s report on the state budget. The discussion of the political isolation law was induced by pressure from some individuals demanding approval of the law in a late evening session; one GNC member was assaulted after rejecting the proposition. The GNC Information Bureau also published a photo of GNC chairman Mohamed El-Magrief`s car following an assassination attempt by protestors demanding the political isolation law move forward as he was leaving the GNC session.
Summary of GNC Sessions
On Monday March 3, 2013 the GNC met at the main office of the Industrial Research Center in Tajoura (east of Tripoli) to review the finance committee report on the Libyan state budget for fiscal year 2013, and discuss the draft political isolation law, among other pieces of legislation. GNC member Nadiya Rashid mentioned that members of the GNC had received a letter from the Information Bureau stating that GNC sessions would commence once again in the previous location.
It is worth mentioning that the GNC had to change locations once again due to sit-ins of handicapped revolutionary protestors who refused to leave the main GNC conference hall. The GNC was subsequently forced to clear the protestors from the hall after drafting legislation that addressed their demands, including financial recompense (ranging from 300 to 3,000 dinars), as well as other disability benefits, such as discounted travel fares. However, they did not leave the hall until the GNC issue a decision to clear the hall without using force on the evening of March 2, 2013.
On Tuesday March 5, 2013 the GNC held a hearing of the political isolation committee on the draft political isolation law, which was presented by 21 members. Continued discussion of the security situation in Tripoli, the draft transitional justice law (presented by the constitutional legislative committee), and the amendment on formation of the constituent committee also took place.
At noon supporters for the draft political isolation law broke into the GNC hall during the discussion of the draft and demanded that the law be voted on and approved. GNC members stated that the move was unjustified and violated the principles of democracy, and GNC members were prevented from leaving the hall of the meteorology center in the El-Karamiya district of Tripoli where they were meeting.
GNC member Fatima El-Majbery blamed GNC members Abdurrahman El-Sawehly and Salah Bady for the violence that took place during the session. She said GNC members were not informed of the session location until late in the morning, and as they prepared to commence they were informed of protestors striking outside the hall as the session began. Surprisingly, Mr. El-Sawehly stated that they would not vote on the isolation law due to the security situation. Mrs. El-Majbery also stated that when GNC members asked how the strikers knew the session location, Mr. Bady claimed he was responsible. Mrs El-Majbery apologized that strikers attacked GNC member Gumaa Elsaieh, and expressed her dismay that such things were happening in the new Libya. She pointed out that she felt as insulted and threatened as the rest of the GNC. It is also worth mentioning that some protestors were attempting to pressure GNC members to sign the political isolation law by force through detaining them inside the hall.
GNC member Ibrahim El-Gheryany announced the resignation of the Coalition of National Forces from the political isolation committee, as he is in full support of the draft law in its current state; it values the loyalty of the martyrs and affirms the Libyan revolution as an initiative of the nation rather than political elites. Mr. El-Gheryany confirmed his support of the law and requested it be quickly approved by the GNC.
In a statement issued by the press bureau GNC chairman Mr. El-Megarief confirmed that “the congress never carries out its duties under threat, nor permits the use of arms by outsider groups as a means to exert pressure on the GNC agenda.” He emphasized that there are formal avenues for demonstration and expressing opinions beyond aggression, abuse, or detention of GNC members, unlike what took place in the meteorology center hall. He also pointed out that “chaos or use of force is unacceptable and of no benefit, but disappoints people and inhibits moving forward in building the constitution and the state. He also added, "we shall continue to work diligently to enforce order and maintain the legality of the state that our people paid for in blood, which requires all joining together on behalf of the state and nation to maintain the homeland; we shall not permit anybody to shatter the strength of the homeland.”
The GNC chairman and some GNC members were threatened by assassination during the session by some group of demonstrators who broke into the hall. One assailant aimed his weapon at the chairman and threatened him as the members left the meeting hall after many hours of detention. The car of the chairman was exposed to continuous firing of shots while he was inside it, which caused significant damage to the car.
Mr. El-Megarief pointed out that until that point the GNC had dealt patiently with the assailants, with good judgment and professionalism had listened to their demands, and had been considering the possibility of voting on the political isolation law, the previous night, but that legislative procedures could not be commenced. He also stated that the detention and threat of violence of the previous night, was disrespectful of elderly and female GNC members. Preventing them from leaving and depriving GNC members of food is an immoral, illegal act that should not be repeated as they do not serve the public national interest. He called all Libyans to join together and speak out against those who disregard laws and prevent Libya from progressing.
The GNC decided to suspend meetings until security could be assured and tragedies such as those that took place on Tuesday would not be repeated. In his press conference Mr. El- Megarief explained that the suspension of meetings “was due to many considerations such as the lack of a secure hall for meetings, a rejection of meeting under pressure, threat of arms, or terrorism,” and that the GNC intended to continue carrying out its mission that the nation had assigned to it during the July 7, 2012 elections. Mr. El-Megarief added that "the GNC committees would continue to meet and prepare draft laws, firstly the general budget draft for the state.”
- Live broadcasts of GNC sessions
- Official website of the GNC
- GNC Facebook page
- Libyan News Agency
- Altadamun 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.]