Libya sets date for assembly vote

Comment on this story
iol newsp ic EF04_LIBYA-SECURITY-_1126_11 Reuters A member of the Libyan army stands guard along a street following clashes in Benghazi. File picture: Esam Omran Al-Fetori

Tripoli - Libya will elect an assembly on February 20 to draft a constitution intended to advance transition to democracy and break political stalemate more than two years after a Nato-backed uprising toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

The North African country is caught up in chaos with its Congress deadlocked between Islamists and a leading nationalist party, and its nascent army struggling to assert itself against unruly former rebels, tribal groups and Islamist militants.

Just hours before the congress decision, gunmen kidnapped the son of Libya's special forces commander in Benghazi, later calling the colonel to demand he withdraw troops in return for his son's release, state news agency LANA said.

At least one soldier was killed, medical and security sources said, after troops clashed with gunmen in the eastern city. Militants from the hardline Islamist Ansar al-Sharia group have been fighting troops there.

Setting the date for the vote was a small step in a transition that has frustrated Libyans since the fall of Gaddafi with the fragile government often at the mercy of rival bands of former rebels who refuse to accept Tripoli's authority.

“We want all Libyan people and groups to reconcile and support these elections,” Nouri Abusahmain, president of the General National Congress, said after announcing the date of the vote On Thursday.

Once the 60-member constitutional assembly is elected, it will have 120 days to draft a new charter, which would then be submitted to a popular referendum. If the document is approved, an election for a proper parliament would be held in late 2014.

But that drafting process is likely to be complicated by the demands of tribal, regional and ethnic interest groups already vying for influence over Tripoli's government.

The constitutional drafting has already been delayed by infighting between the National Forces Alliance party, and the Islamist Justice and Construction party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya.

The transitional term of the General National Congress was to have expired on February 7, but its members extended this to provide continuity, promising to stay on only if progress on the constitution is being made.

Political divisions in Libya are accompanied by rivalries among brigades of former fighters and militants and tribal groups who fought Gaddafi, and now want a greater share in the post-revolution spoils and power. - Reuters


sign up
 
 

Comment Guidelines



  1. Please read our comment guidelines.
  2. Login and register, if you haven’ t already.
  3. Write your comment in the block below and click (Post As)
  4. Has a comment offended you? Hover your mouse over the comment and wait until a small triangle appears on the right-hand side. Click triangle () and select "Flag as inappropriate". Our moderators will take action if need be.