Constitutions Libya

Opinion Article: These 56 People Have a Chance to Save Libya

These 56 People Have a Chance to Save Libya

Michael Meyer-Resende, Omar Ould Hammady

Libya’s democratic transition is failing. Civil war is tearing the country apart as rival governments vie for power. An international attempt at mediation has produced few tangible results, and those in the know are pessimistic about the prospects for a deal. Meanwhile the economy is grinding to a halt; officials struggle to maintain basic services.

Against this apparently hopeless backdrop, one democratically elected institution continues to function: The country’s Constitution Drafting Assembly (CDA), which was elected in February of last year. Based in the city of Al-Baida, in eastern Libya, the assembly is tasked with drafting the country’s permanent constitution. The CDA began its work in April 2014 and released preliminary proposals for a draft constitution in December. These are currently under discussion in committees and plenary sessions. While the Interim Constitutional Declaration of August 2011 envisioned an unrealistic timeframe of 120 days for the constitution-drafting process, the CDA interprets the currently relevant provisions as allowing a more flexible timeline. (In the photo, a boy waves the Libyan flag during an April 2014 ceremony organized by the CDA in al-Baida.)

It would seem highly improbable, at first glance, that this group of 56 people could make a tangible difference under Libya’s present conditions. Some Libyans would, indeed, dismiss the CDA as irrelevant to their everyday concerns — not least because of its modest performance to date. More than a year has passed since voters elected the CDA, and most of its committees are not close to agreeing even on first drafts of a text. Nevertheless, the assembly is uniquely positioned to help Libya overcome its dire predicament. While it cannot bring an end to the conflict on its own, it has certain unique qualities that can contribute to a solution.

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Photo: Nicholas Raymond/flickr

Tags: Election law