HoR continues debate on constitution referendum bill
By Sami Zaptia.
London, 2 July 2018:
The House of Representatives (HoR) continued its official meeting at its headquarters in Tobruk last week, to complete the discussion of the draft constitution referendum bill on Libya’s permanent constitution.
According to the spokesperson for the (HoR), Abdulla Belheeg, HoR members continued their discussion on the articles of the bill, which included what he referred to as a ‘‘tentative’’ vote on some amendments to the articles of the bill.
The most important of these articles is to vote yes or no on the draft constitution without those voting no giving reasons for voting no. Belheeg also reported that the HoR are considering dividing Libya into three constituencies and abolishing the existence of a fourth constituency abroad.
Belheeg added that the HoR wans to ensure that these amendments are not in contradiction with the 2011 Transitional Constitutional Declaration, adding that the opinion of the legislative committee in particular will be taken for the possible need for a constitutional amendment if any text of the referendum bill is contradictory to the Transitional Constitutional Declaration, prior to finalizing the draft referendum bill to a final vote.
It will be recalled that the HoR had met last Monday to start debating the draft law for the referendum on the draft constitution.
Belheeq had reported that the HoR had begun debating the draft ‘‘article by article’’ in the presence of 78 members.
It will be recalled that the elected Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) had initially presented the HoR with its latest draft constitution in July 2017, but a (lower) court ruling in the eastern city of Beida in August of the same year had prevented the HoR from debating/approving the draft.
However, the Supreme Court subsequently overturned that ruling in February this year, clearing the way for the HoR to debate and vote on the draft constitution.
It must, nevertheless, also be kept in mind that the two ethnically Tebu members of the CDA had not voted in favour of the ‘‘approved’’ draft constitution. Under the existing voting rules, the constitution has to be accepted by at least one of the two CDA members from each of the three ethnic communities in Libya – the Amazigh, Tebu and Tuareg. In theory this voids the vote on the draft constitution.
Politically, it will be recalled that the 29 May 2018 joint communique issued by Faiez Serraj, Ageela Saleh, Khaled Mishri and Khalifa Hafter at the end of the Paris conference on Libya committed the above signatories to constitutional based elections, an electoral law to be passed by the HoR by 16 September 2018, Libyan parliamentary and presidential elections by 10 December 2018, an acceptance of the election results by all parties, an end to parallel state institutions and unified military and security institution.