By Ahmed Elumami and Tazeez Hasairi.
Tripoli, 15 December 2013:
The General National Congress’ Second Deputy President, Saleh Makhzoum, has said that once the elections . . .[restrict]take place for the 60-member Committee that will devise the new constitution, Congress will cease to exist five months later.
He said that the Committee would take four months to draw up a constitution and there would be another month for the referendum. At that point, Congress’s role would be over and a new permanent legislature could be elected.
The comments are seen as a response to the growing although inaccurate belief that Congress’ mandate expires on 7 February. The perception is based on the fact that the August 2011 Constitutional Declaration which led to Congress’ election in July last year envisaged a new constitution being ready at the latest by early February 2014 and then, shortly afterwards, its enactment and the election of a new legislature.
Makhzoum’s timeline is being dismissed as wildely optimistic.
The Higher National Election Commission has been struggling to register voters for the elections to the 60-member committee. The initial date for the end of registration passed yesterday with only 393,522 voters registered, a tenth of those eligible. Registration has been extended until 21 December but there is still a significant disparity in female participation. Tuareg, Amazigh, and Tebu ethnic minorities are also boycotting the elections.
“There needs to be at least one million registered voters and a high turnout otherwise the Constitutional Committee will not be accepted”, a worried election official told the Libya Herald last week,
According to Naima Mohammed Jibril, who helped write the law regulating elections to the 60-member committee, the low turn-out in voter registration has been caused by “a reluctance due to the security situation, the poor performance of congress and government, and political and economic challenges”.
She is also dismissive of Makhzoum’s timescale. It would be impossible for the 60-member committee to draw up the constitution in just four months, she says, even if elections went ahead on time. She explained that once the committee is elected, delays will take place as fierce vested interests play out. [/restrict]