[The following report was issued by Bokra Youth Organization and H2O Team on 26 May 2013. This is the ninth in a year-long series of reports covering the actions of Libya`s General National Council. This issue focuses on the period from 15 April to 1 May 2013. Click here to access the previous report.]
Eye on the LIbyan General National Congress: Ninth Report
Libya`s General National Congress held four routine sessions during this period. The highlights of these meetings included the restructuring of the Electoral Commission headed by Nouri El-Abbar, and the issuing of preliminary provisions for the political isolation law, which will be discussed by the various political blocs. Consensus was to be reached after a maximum of fourteen days from April 23, 2013. A committee was also formed to examine a proposal to send thirty thousand youth to study aboard. The GNC also approved Law No. 11 (on martial law).
General National Congress Meetings
On April 16, 2013, the official GNC spokesman Omar Hmeidan explained that the GNC did not discuss any of the proposed items during the meeting. During the morning session the GNC considered the status of one of its members, and passed on the matter to the Constitutional and Legal Committee to consider and prepare a memorandum. Hmeidan noted that the main items the GNC intended to discuss during the evening session were ambassadorial appointments and transitional justice, as well as a proposal submitted by 120 GNC members on sending youth to study abroad. Hmeidan also noted the proposal aims to send nearly 30,000 youth, explaining this proposal has emerged from a plan the government adopted, which aimed to send approximately 18,000 youth to study abroad (averaging 5,000 per year). Hmeidan stated that in regards to this proposal, a special budget will be adopted.
On April 21, 2013, GNC member Abdel Fattah Labeeb commented that the most important item discussed during the session was the formation of an Electoral Commission, headed by Nouri El-Abbar and six other GNC members. Abdullatif El Mahalhal stated, "General National Congress members voted in today`s morning session to approve the GNC president`s proposal with regards to naming the Board of Commissioners by 69 of 118 votes." El Mahalhal added, "The GNC president provided seven names, including Nouri El-Abbar, who previously headed the Commission. There was considerable controversy related to the selection, but finally the members agreed to vote."
Also El Mahalhal expressed his annoyance at the absence of a large number of members, stating "there are 190 members of the General National Congress, and today only 118 members were in attendance to vote." He wondered at the legality of the approved proposal, given that it was only approved by 69 of a total 190 GNC members, or 40%. El Mahalhal continued, "The president of the GNC must require members to attend voting sessions. It is not reasonable to vote on such an important decision as the Board of Commissioners with only 69 votes," and that "there is a clear flaw in the voting system; votes should be postponed unless all members of the GNC attend," adding "the problem is the lack of disciplinary measures for absent members in the procedure of the GNC." El Mahalhal requested that a measure be put in place to punish absent members, or even terminate them permanently in cases of repeated absence.
Abdel Fattah Labeeb discussed, after the approval of the constitutional amendment to elect the constitution drafting committee, the matter of forming the committee to establish the law for the election of the constitutional drafting committee. The committee will consist of 13 representatives from all constituencies, and the constitutional law specialist Salem Mohammed Kashlaf from the constituency of Swaq El-Gamaa, El-Garaboli and Tajura was selected. The committee began its meetings on Sunday to accelerate the establishment of the law.
Discussion also took place on the law of basic pensions for retirees, and the proposal sponsored by 130 GNC members to develop a training program for more than 30,000 youth. The proposal has already been sent to the Labour and Social Affairs, Higher Education, and Finance Committees in the GNC to discuss and subsequently develop the program within a month.
Regarding the political isolation law, Labeeb stated that drafts of the law were transferred to parliamentary blocs in the GNC to achieve consensus within a ten days. He also noted that there is a proposal submitted by the Constitutional and Legislative Committee in the GNC to amend the law of impartiality, wherein consists the essence of the political isolation law.
During the April 23, 2013 GNC session, the military governor of the southern region, Ramadan Al-Barasi, was recalled in order to discuss security attacks in Sabha City, as well as provide general information on the status of the region and the reasons for Al-Barasi`s substandard performance. The GNC also discussed war reparations and compensation of Chad and Abu Slim prisoners, and issued a statement condemning the bombing that took place that morning in front of the French Embassy. The GNC explained in its statement that the events do not represent the beliefs and behavior of Libyan people, and that this incident should not affect the close relationship between Libya and France; the Libyan people will not forget how France stood with them in the revolution. The GNC emphasized in the same statement that the perpetrators will not escape justice; all legal procedures will be taken and Libya is committed to protecting embassies, diplomatic missions and residential communities in the country. Overall the most prominent matter highlighted in the day`s session was the GNC`s women bloc holding a meeting with the committee in support of Libyan women to discuss the role of women in the 60-person committee. It is noteworthy that the meeting produced some internal recommendations and a statement from the bloc calling for greater women`s representation in elections.
It is worth mentioning that the agenda for the day`s meeting was not specified, which led to confusion among members who did not know the details of the meeting.
On April 28, 2013, the GNC was scheduled to approve the minutes of the 78th and 79th meetings with relevant ministers and officials on decision No. 27 regarding the clearing of Tripoli from illegal armed protests. The ministers called to testify were the Ministers of: Justice, Interior, Defense, Communications, Chief of Staff of the Libyan army, the head of Libyan intelligence, and the head of the judicial police. GNC members had initiated the request for the hearing because they wished to be informed on the implementation of the decision.
Regarding the incident of assault on a prisoner during transferal that subsequently resulted in the murder of the prisoner by an armed group, the GNC heard the testimony of the Justice Minister and the head of the judicial police who clarified the circumstances of the incident and what the shortcomings were, as well as the Communications Minister`s explanation of recent rumors of phonetapping of both officials and citizens. The GNC also discussed the general security situation, including the attack on the French Embassy of the previous week, as well as the statement of President of Chad Idris Deby, who claimed that there are trained Chadian forces in Benghazi. GNC members posed a number of questions on the aforementioned topics, and the Minister of Defense stated that all armed forces are under the charge of his ministry, and he does not know about foreign forces beyond the regular army.
The Minister of the Interior discussed the difficulties in implementation of the clearing of Tripoli, as well as the lack of support. Commenting on the ministers` statements, Mohammed Bashir (a member of the GNC) stated that the hearing took place as a result of what happened near the French Embassy and the recent clashes in the south. He also reported that a number of GNC members have proposed replacing certain authorities such as the Chiefs of: Staff, Intelligence, the Audit Bureau and the Governor of the Libya Central Bank, who was recently appointed by the Transitional Council. In the same vein GNC member Tawfiq El-Chehiby commented that the interim Defense Minister still insists upon injecting himself in affairs he is not qualified to work on, and that the Defense Minister has threatened more than once to resign if the Chief of Staff is replaced. El-Chehiby was surprised given that the Defense minister is a military man and knows very well who has the right to appoint or dismiss the Chief of Staff—not the Defense Minister nor the Prime Minister— the GNC. El-Chehiby continued saying though the President and the Defense Minister might forget, the Defense Minister has to have to read the temporary Constitutional Declaration that states the appointment of the Chiefs of Staff is the prerogative of the GNC. Finally El-Chehiby stated he was sure that the Defense Minister knows all this.
In the same vein Fatima El-Magbree, a member of the GNC, described the meeting as an opportunity to hear Defense Minister Mohammed El-Bargathy and to promote transparency, clarity and credibility, and that the minister responded credibly to questions. El-Magbree added that many security breaches have taken place recently in Tripoli and in the south, inciting questions about the country`s security situation. It is worth mentioning that the third item discussed during the meeting was the draft law on restructuring the Supreme Judicial Council.
In addition, a draft of the political isolation law was published by the Media Office of the GNC. Omar Bushah, a GNC representative of El-Bida City stated that threats tried to induce them to approve the political isolation law. The meeting to discuss the law was postponed to Tuesday April 30, 2013. Mahmoud Jibril, the head of the Alliance of National Forces, threatened to withdraw his party from the government and the GNC in an interview with Al-Arabiya. He explained that the reasoning for blackmailing the ministries boils down to two points: legitimacy rejection and to prevent the GNC from replacing the Chief of Staff and to force the GNC to pass the political isolation law. Jibril considered the attempt a personal attack, and spoke harshly against the political isolation law protesters. Jibril said he had contacted Prime Minister Ali Zaidan and told him the National Forces Alliance was considering its options, and the government should take decisive action against what was happening; if they cannot, the government and the GNC should move to Tubrik or El-Bida in the east. It is noteworthy that political isolation law demonstrators assaulted government buildings several times, including the Ministries of the Interior, Foreign Affairs and Justice in an effort to isolate all who worked in Gaddafi`s regime.
The GNC issued a statement condemning the terrorist attack of Tuesday April 23, 2013 that targeted the French Embassy in Tripoli, and confirmed this terrorist act does not reflect the values and manners of Libyan people, and the perpetrators will not escape justice but will be prosecuted. The statement emphasized Libya`s commitment to protect all embassies and diplomatic missions and residential communities, confirming this action will not affect the close relationship between Libya and France, and the Libyan people will not forget France`s support during the revolution, stressing the hands of evil will not be able to shake their determination to build a country of freedom, justice, equality and tolerance.
Laws Approved by the General National Congress
- Law No. 12/2013 of April 18, regarding the amendment of Law No. 16/1985 on pensions: The text in the first article will be amended to state: the rate of monthly basic pensions will equal the pensions enjoyed by primary beneficiaries, with the same bonus and benefits assessments.
- Law No.11/2013 of April 18, on the amendment of the Penal Code and military procedures: Article No. 45 of the Military Criminal Procedure on competent court to jurisdiction over crime cases, assigns jurisdiction to the military courts for all persons and uniformed military hostages, except if they commit crimes with civilians, in which case the jurisdiction is assigned to regular courts.
Decisions Approved by the General National Congress
- Decision No. 38/2013 appointed Abdul-Basit Abdul-Qadir El-Badri ambassador of Libya to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- Decision No. 39/2013 created a committee of GNC members to analyze and submit a proposal on sending youth to study abroad, which will include the following GNC members:
- Al-Ajeli Mohammed Abusidal, Higher Education and Scientific Research committee
- Hameed Abdelsalam El-Bagdadi, Higher Education and Scientific Research committee
- Mohammed Amari Zaiad, Higher Education and Scientific Research committee
- Nadia Rached Omar, Labor and Social Affairs committee
- Zaidan Mosbah Abdulah, Labor and Social Affairs committee
- Ahmed Salam Sawi, Labor and Social Affairs committee
- Huda Abdellatif El-Banani, Planning and Finance committee
- Mohammed Ali Abdulah, Planning and Finance committee
- Marir Muftah Mahrhr, Planning and Finance committee
- Akrm Ali Ganin
- Fawzi Frag El-Agab
- Abdelmanam Farg El-Whishi
- Abdelmanam Hussian Bashir
- Musa Frag Salah
The GNC provided the committee 30 days to complete its work. The GNC also submitted a detailed report that shows the results the proposals were comprehensive.
- Law No. 40/2013 named the chairman and the members of the Supreme Council of the National Election Commission: Nuri Khalifa El-Abbar, President of the Electoral Commission; Khaled Ali El-Sahli; Emad El-Shadli Al-Saih; Ali Mohammed El-Twati; Abd El-Hakim El-Shaab Belkhir; Abubaker Ali Mohammed; and Rabab Mohammed Al-Halb.
- Law No. 41/2013 regarding the issue of the political isolation law, requires proposals and drafts of the law to be transmitted to political blocs in the GNC within 14 days from the date of issuance after the draft was transferred to the GNC president`s office.
- Televised Sessions of the GNC
- Official GNC Website
- Portal of the GNC Media Centre
- Libyan News Agency
- Attadamin News Agency
- Alanba Newspaper
- Social media pages of GNC members and political parties of the GNC.
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[Click here to download the report in Arabic.]