Libyans Begin Drafting Post-Qaddafi Constitution

Libyans Begin Drafting Post-Qaddafi Constitution

Elected representatives to the Libyan Parliament convened for the first time on Monday to begin a constitutional convention that they hope will result in the first federal constitution the country has had since the demise of Muammar Qaddafi.

Reuters reports that a special committee to draft the Constitution met Monday–a group of 47 elected officials that assumed power for this committee after elections in every region of the country stable enough to organize an election. While this excludes some areas, including Derna, an area rife with radical Islamic infighting, the Libyan government has decided the group is sufficiently representative to write the constitution. Also excluded from the population are Berbers and the Amazigh population, both of whom boycotted the operation. 

The group convened in the eastern city of Bayda, where the first constitution was written in 1951. The Libya Herald describes this meeting as “largely ceremonial,” as it is the meeting in which the group elects a committee president and sets logistic parameters for the actual drafting of the bill. The Herald notes that leaving the hard work of drafting the piece for a subsequent session will also allow for the election of more representatives from the more volatile regions; the committee was initially intended to have 60 members, but is missing 13.

Even the higher echelons of the government of Libya are rife with disputes and struggle, leading many to expect the constitutional convention to last far longer than the proposed 120 days. Last week, the nation lost its interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani. He stepped down, citing the need to “not drag different sides into fighting where there can be no winner,” and in response to an armed attack on him and his family that weekend, according to the Associated Press. Al-Thani was only prime minister for days, and now seven candidates stand to replace him. His predecessor, Ali Zeidan, was removed by a vote of no confidence after proving unable to quell unrest in the more volatile eastern regions of the country.

Al-Thani is not the only political leader in the nation causing problems. Last month, the government began an “immorality probe” on Parliament President Nuri Abu Sahmein after a video surfaced of the man interacting with two women at night in his home. The rapid turnover in high-level government jobs and increased scrutiny into these figures have left Libya with few stable leadership options, something parliamentarians hope will improve with the implementation of a new constitution.