By Umar Khan
Tripoli, 21 January:
Though he remains concerned at the speed of decision-making and the quality of politics in the General National . . .[restrict]Congress, National Front Party president Muhammad Ali Abdullah told Libya Herald that he is nonetheless satisfied overall with the work Congress has done, given the extraordinary circumstances that followed its election last July.
Abdullah blamed the security situation for unexpected delays in keeping to the political timetable.
The GNC is yet to decide if the constitutional Commission will be appointed or elected and with the passage of time parties are changing their approach to the issue. At one stage, soon after the elections, there was consensus among the major parties that they would annul the decision of National Transitional Council to have the constitutional committee elected. However, a move to get the Federalists to endorse this did not work.
Abdullah said he thinks the very idea of having the 60-member Commission needs to be reconsidered.
“We need to revisit the central idea of this Commission, the number of seats, how are they allocated and then to see if they are to be appointed or elected,” he said, “ A committee has been formed in this regard that will conduct the research, engaging the sides involved in dialogue. It will then put forward the recommendations to the GNC in six weeks.
“We have reserved each Tuesday afternoons session to debate only the constitution,” he continued, “although there may have to be some exceptions, because of the other sensitive issues that require urgent attention.”
He added: “ The constitution is the major step in this (transitional) process but we also have other daily tasks, including the legislation and supervision of government. We are working on many other things but the work on the constitution goes on in parallel. There are many other important laws in the making, like the transitional justice law, the law cancelling the previous regime’s infamous Law Number Four (in order to return confiscated properties), a law to implement Islamic Finance, a law adjusting salaries, reforms to labour legislation and the diplomatic process.”
Asked about the level of progress on each of the named laws, Abdullah said some of them were in advanced stage, whilst others were still mere ideas.
“There is at least one draft ready for the Transitional Justice law , which was prepared with the input from legal experts and civil society. It will probably be passed soon.” He continued: “The same is the case with legislation on the confiscated properties. It is also in a very advanced stage, again with the involvement from the civil society. For others like the labour law, not much has been done, as they are less of a priority when you compare them with others.”
Abdullah expressed frustration at the lack of information in the public domain about the work the GNC is doing and blamed the almost non-existent media office.
“I have been reminding them from Day One to keep the public informed about the work the GNC is doing. Now, sometimes they avoid me, because I always ask them about the media office.
“At one stage I thought of resigning from my seat, just to work on the GNC media office myself, as I know how important it is to keep the people informed. There should be a constant level of communication with all the projects and their timelines being made available to the public. It should also list the obstacles and dependencies, if any, that are preventing us from making progress. Enough information in the public domain on GNC’s work can also help greatly to manage public expectations.”
Speaking about his party, Abdullah praised the NFA vice-presidents and the secretary-general for doing all the work. “I try hard to visit the party office twice a week but I’m grateful to my wonderful team that is doing a great job.”,
He also said that the party is growing big but acknowledged that they are still countering the propaganda against it which, he said, was spread by diehard supporters of the Qaddafi regime.
“The party is going strong. We are mobilising in many different cities but the misinformation about us is still a problem we are facing. People form their opinion on misinformation and lies that Qaddafi people spread against us, but we are trying hard to explain our position. It has been the policy of National Front to let our actions and principles speak for themselves and we are trying to do the same even now.”
Abdullah added: “Sometimes our political competitors use this misinformation as leverage to attack us. However, we believe in elevating the level of politics here, so try to respond in a very polite way.”
He continued: “Unfortunately some people have very negative connotations about people who lived abroad. It is something that is portrayed in the media in a negative way as well. This has to change and people need to know that these expatriates lived in exile for the sake of their country and developed themselves academically, socially and professionally. I hate the segmentation of Libyans. At the end of the day, we are all Libyans and should work for the country.”
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