By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 24 January 2013:
Libya must avoid Egypt’s root to a constitution, according to Amr Ben-Halim, founder of the Forum . . .[restrict]for Democratic Libya (FDL). “The drafting must not be like Egypt’s which was a disaster,” he says. “There, the dominant group in parliament ignored the minority.”
The FDL is running a series of workshops dialogues in a dozen locations across the country aimed at fostering awareness about the new constitution and ensuring the whole country — men, women and youth — is involved in creating it. Entitled Nabi fi Dusturi . . .(“I want .. in my Constitution”), the dialogues will be documented and presented to the 60-member Constitutional Commission once it is formed, either by the General National Congress or by election.
“Libya’s constitution is not something that can be drafted by a majority,” he told the Libya Herald on Wednesday at the launch ceremony in Tripoli for the programme. It is not just a matter of a referendum either. “There has to be consensus. There was no consensus in Egypt.”
Ensuring that there is in Libya will take time, he said, unlike in in Egypt where the process was rushed through. In Libya the process has to be inclusive and involve all the country’s regions.
“We are going to places like Jadu, Kufra, Obari and Murzuk. We’re going where no one else is going”, said Ben-Halim. “The constitution has to involve everyone, including the Tebu, the Amazigh and the Tuareg. It also has to include people marginalized by the revolution. We’re going to Sirte and Bani Walid.” People from Tawergha would also have their say, he added.
The constitution “must recognise differences and respect them,” said the FDL’s Hanin Bishousha at the launch.
Jumga Ateega, the deputy president of the General National Congress, told particpants that although the 1951 constitution had contained little about citizens’ rights it had worked because King Idris had been a good man. But now their rights had to be in the constitution. It had to be based on respect for people.
Fifteen facilitators trained by FDL who will run the dialogues were presented at the launch. FDL is being supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It is collaborating with a number of other Libyan NGOs.
Details about FDL are available at www.fdl.org.ly .