Libya elections

February 18, 2014 - 6:22:15 am
Libyan president’s statement that the country’s parliament will call elections as early as possible is welcome. The announcement is an apparent effort to assuage ordinary Libyans who are angry over political chaos in the country nearly three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. All the Arab Spring countries have moved in different directions after their dictators were overthrown. Egypt is still going through a revolution, with no immediate end in sight. Syria is on the verge of disintegration and has become a huge question mark on Arab Spring itself. Libya has been treading a middle ground. There is no absolute chaos in the country, but democracy is still far away. Only Tunisia has made commendable progress and has been projected as a model for all Arab Spring countries. A constitution which the new leaders have written is very modern in outlook, the political parties, including the Islamists and secular parties, are working in perfect harmony and an interim government in Tunis which will be in charge until elections are held is doing a good job of governance.

Libya too has to follow the example of Tunisia. Otherwise, the country risks following the path of Egypt.  The parliament in Tripoli, the General National Congress (GNC), is deadlocked between Islamists and nationalists, compounding a sense of chaos as the country’s fledgling army tries to assert itself against unruly ex-rebels, tribal groups and Islamist militants. Many Libyans are blaming mainly the GNC infighting for a lack of progress in the transition towards democracy since the ousting of Gaddafi in 2011.

President Nouri Abusahmain said an election law will be approved by the end of March, without providing a more precise timetable. He has deliver on this promise and work tirelessly to install a democratic government in Tripoli. Miltias are the biggest problem which the country faces. Gaddafi’s weapons have fallen into their arms and they are in control in many parts of the country, challenging the central authorities and the army. Oil production, Libya’s lifeline, has slowed to a trickle as armed protesters and tribesmen have seized oil ports and fields across the vast desert nation to press political and financial demands. These militias must be disarmed as early as possible. 

The election must be held in a free and fair manner, and there should be peace and security so that people will be encouraged to exercise their voting rights.

Libyans are due to vote on February 20 for the body to draft the constitution. If successfully agreed, a new constitution would be a rare bright spot in a transition so far marred by instability and violence.