World diplomats are working to help Libya create a stable government amid violence and growing political tensions that have festered since former President Moammar Qaddafi’s regime crumbled in 2011, AP reports:
Today’s meeting of foreign ministers, mostly from the West and Gulf states, focused largely on easing disagreements among Libya’s diverse tribal, religious and ethnic populations, looking toward writing a new constitution.
Niger today extradited Saadi el-Qaddafi, the third son of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, back to Libya, where he is accused of participating in the corruption and abuses of his father’s 40-year rule, the New York Times reports:
The transitional government in Libya has sought Mr. Qaddafi and other fugitive members of his family since rebels toppled his father three years ago. The transitional government has shown little progress in building a credible or independent judiciary that might handle such high-profile cases, to say nothing of the problems it has found in creating a professional army, police force or prison system.
A blockade of Libya’s eastern Hariga oil port…one of many involving oil facilities of the OPEC country that have contributed to a cut in petroleum output to 230,000 bpd from 1.4 million bpd in July…. highlights the chaos in the North African oil producer since the fall of Gaddafi, and the complications for its fragile government in overcoming protests holding its vital oil industry hostage, Reuters reports.
Libyans have expressed mixed views on proposals on transitional arrangements over the next 18 months, which among other things calls for direct election of the president and parliament, reports suggest.
The February Committee, a 15-member body created by Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) to propose amendments to the country’s 2011 Constitutional Declaration and pave the way for parliamentary and legislative elections, presented a report with at least 57 recommendations to the GNC on March 4, according to a Libya-based democracy assistance group:
Given a mandate to flesh out the GNC’s controversial roadmap for the continued transitional period, the February Committee is comprised of six elected GNC members and nine non-elected members, predominantly jurists. The committee’s creation was largely in response to mounting public dissatisfaction with GNC performance and demands that its members step down rather than extend their ill-defined mandate.
The report — presented as draft legislation — recommends that a future elected House of Representatives be based in Benghazi. Libya’s next president would be directly elected and would appoint the prime minister. The president would have limited executive authority as head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces, and in most decision-making instances would be required to consult with the prime minister or obtain consent from the House of Representatives. In reality, executive powers could be fairly significant if the choice of prime minister is solely at the president’s discretion.
Some members of the GNC say that the report only contains recommendations that require congressional debate and the opportunity to amend before passage into law. However, there is growing urgency for the GNC to elaborate a clearer path forward. Even as pressure on the body to step down intensified over the past several weeks, many Libyans also realize that the country needs a legislative body to oversee the constitution-drafting process, as well as the holding of a constitutional referendum and subsequent elections.
But public patience is wearing thin and further delays in moving toward elections will be viewed unfavorably as attempts by the GNC to extend its tenuous term in office. The GNC plans to debate the February Committee’s proposals during its next plenary session on March 9. However, other pressing agenda items scheduled for the same session, including debate over a no confidence measure on Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and a proposed amendment to the interim constitution to ensure the rights of ethnic minority communities may prevent the GNC from reaching a decision on the committee’s proposals.
The February Committee worked in near isolation, declining calls for meetings and repeatedly promising to publish updates online. The group appeared to take its assignment seriously, especially regarding clarity over the extent of presidential authority. The GNC may further refine presidential prerogatives as it clarifies processes, including those for: selecting the prime minister; signing laws into force, declaring states of emergency and war; and conducting cabinet meetings.
The 13 “authorities” of the president, listed on the GNC public information page, are as follows:
1) Represents the country in international relations.
2) Power to select a prime minister.
3) Acts as the Supreme Commander in Chief of the Libyan Army.
4) Power to appoint or dismiss the Chief of Intelligence Services with consent of the House of Representatives.
5) Appoints ambassadors and representatives to international organizations, based on proposals from (on the recommendation of) the Foreign Minister.
6) The authority to appoint or dismiss senior civil servants or state employees in consultation with the Prime Minister.
7) Receives credentials of foreign ambassadors and representatives to Libya.
8) Issues laws which are passed by the House of Representatives.
9) Signs international conventions and treaties, which then must be approved by the House of Representatives.
10) Declares state of emergency and war, and takes exceptional measures after approval from the council of defense and national security. An approval from the House of Representatives must also be taken in 10 days’ time.
11) Heads meetings of the government when he attends them.
12) Dismisses the Prime Minister in consultations with the House of Representatives, and also dismisses government ministers in consultations with the Prime Minister.
13) Any other powers stipulated by the constitutional declaration and law.