By the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace, and a coalition of Libyan civil society organisations.
Tripoli, 13 July 2013:
The National Congress failed . . .[restrict]to reach an agreement on the draft electoral law that will guide elections of the Constitutional Assembly for Libya at its most recent session on Monday, 8 July.
The Constitutional Assembly will be charged with writing a new constitution for Libya and thus, activists have been concerned that the proposed electoral law fails to be inclusive and comes up short with regards to promoting diversity and fully representing Libyan society.
Negotiations continue among the parties and blocks within the General National Congress (GNC). Discussion has centered on three key areas. First, the number of seats allocated to women and cultural minorities. Second, the electoral system, and third, the distribution of electoral districts.
The women bloc demands the allocation of 15 seats to women, a stipulation that was widely refuted by members of Congress. The GNC put to vote a lesser proposal, allocating only six seats to women in the Constitutional Assembly, prompting the bloc to abstain during the vote.
A snapshot of the different opinions being shared by various blocs:
1) Bloc of Justice and Building: Pushed to uphold the freedom of women to participate in elections of the Constitutional Assembly on the basis of the individual system, while maintaining the six seats already allocated to women.
2) The Alliance of the National Forces: Proposed the adoption of the mixed system, i.e the individual system and the zipper list system, contending it will ensure the desired balanced representation of women.
3) Bloc of Ya Biladi: Adopts the closed zipper list system, which it believes will guarantee 50 percent of seats in the Constitutional Assembly for women.
4) Bloc of Al-Wafa li dimaa Al-Shuhadaa (Remaining Faithful to the Blood of the Martyrs): Opposes a quota for women’s representation in the Constitutional Assembly.
4) National Front Party: Calls for the extension of the Constitutional Assembly from 60 members to 90 members (60 elected and 30 appointed, 12 of which would be women).
In continuing negotiations, ten seats were offered to the women bloc, which were later reduced to six. Afterwards, this number reverted back to ten. The ten seats in question would be geographically divided as follows: four seats for the Eastern Region, four seats for the Southern Region, and two seats for the Western Region. The ten seats are being offered on the condition that the zipper list system – which guarantees representation of women, youth, various cultural segments of society, special needs individuals, and a diversity of professions – is forfeited.
Currently, women representatives face mounting pressure to approve the draft electoral law, despite its shortcomings in guaranteeing their representation in the Constitutional Assembly. Meanwhile, female representatives from civil society organisations held sit-ins demanding that Congress activates the quota system and increases women’s representation to thirty-five percent, sustaining the lobby for increased representation.
The Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace (LWPP), along with a coalition of Libyan civil society organisations, coordinated a national campaign and lobby for a more inclusive electoral law, which launched in June. A corresponding campaign, ‘Together Men and Women We will Write our Constitution,’ has also been launched.
Together, the LWPP and its partners have proposed a mixed electoral system which combines the individual system and the closed “zipper list” system to ensure the inclusive representation of the Constitutional Assembly. The proposal guarantees twenty-four women within the sixty-member body of the Constitutional Assembly. Under this proposal, forty-eight seats of the assembly will be allocated to party lists, with alternating male and female candidates.
Before the 8 July session of Congress let out, several additional votes took place. Articles five and six were put to vote but the required quorum of 120 votes was not fulfilled. Thus, the articles were rejected and are back on the negotiating table.
Only 86 out 135 members of the Congress voted in favor of the article devoting a quota of six seats for the cultural components and six seats for women.
Only 102 out of 135 members of the Congress voted in favor of the article pertaining to the individual voting system.
The article that prevents members of parties from nomination was removed. Hence, political parties will have individuals run in the elections on their behalf and represent them in the Constitutional Assembly. This becomes a grey area, as it is difficult for voters to know whether they are voting for an individual candidate or the candidate’s affiliated party.
The LWPP was formed by leading women activists in October 2011 to serve as a networking movement of civil society groups throughout Libya. It convenes training sessions, organises advocacy activities, and serves as an information clearing house for women and youth activists and their allies throughout Libya. It comprises members from all regions of Libya, as well as nationals and members of the diaspora.
For the full proposal for an alternative elective law issued by the coalition of Libyan groups see: Proposal for an Alternate Electoral Law EN
For more information on the LWPP, see their Facebook page. [/restrict]