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Libya parties get assembly seats

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Reuters

The U.N. Security Council on Friday called on Libya to release four detained International Criminal Court staff members.

Tripoli - Libya will reserve two fifths of the seats in its new parliament for political parties, groups that were banned under deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi, according to the final draft of the country's election law published on Wednesday.

The policy reversed an earlier plan to give all seats to independents - a scheme which angered the country's nascent parties who said it would allow wealthy and powerful tribal figures to dominate politics.

The final draft also removed a promised 10 percent quota for female candidates, a move which will infuriate women's rights groups who had hoped for a fresh start after the overthrow of Gaddafi last year.

Libyan's new National Assembly, due to be elected in the country's first free elections in June, will have the job of drawing up a constitution.

The country's interim ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) posted the earlier draft of the election law on its website in December and asked for people's comments.

The earlier version said all candidates would have to run as independents as the country had no laws regulating political parties.

In the final draft, published on the NTC's website, 80 out of the 200 Assembly seats will go to political parties.

Wasila al-Aashiq, head of the moderate Islamist al-Umma party, told Reuters that she had hoped for more seats to go to parties, but that the new law was “manageable.”

“The problem with a lot of seats for independents is that people will vote for people with money and tribal influence, not for party policy. But this is our government's decision and we will have to work with it,” she said.

The 15-page final election law made no change to earlier bans on Libyans with ties to Gaddafi running for office.

Academics who wrote about Gaddafi's “Green Book”, containing his musings on politics, economics and everyday life, are also barred as are members of the NTC, the interim government and heads of the NTC's local councils.

The law said details of how the country would be divided into constituencies would be published within two weeks. Candidates have to be older than 21 and literate.

Sources close to the drafting process said the women's quota was removed as most citizens who responded said they were against both positive and negative discrimination.

Four out of five Libyans agreed conditions in the country were heading in the right direction, according to a survey by pollsters ORB International published on Wednesday.

A total of 76 percent of Libyans agreed the North African country should “have a government chosen by the people in free, competitive elections”, according to the poll carried out in three cities. - Reuters


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