In a context of apathy and cynicism of many Libyans about the political developments of the country, Libyan citizen groups want to re-ignite public attention and engagement on moving the country out of its current anarchy. Thirty-three representatives of civic groups gathered in Tunisia from 9-13 November to chart the way forward for more public engagement.
They can play a role to create more dialogue between citizens and their locally elected officials, because these groups enjoy public support and confidence. Better handling of local affairs is one way to overcome the current apathy, to show that change is possible.
The 33 representatives, 21 men and 12 women from different cities and towns of Libya, met at the DRI event to discuss possible scenarios of the political transformation and how to respond to them. The group included members of the Libyan Constitutional Coalition and other civil society actors, academics and activists. They agreed that the country’s trajectory – elections in 2014 that were followed by division, violence and a crisis of legitimacy – has deeply undermined public confidence in the political process.
Participants used the event as a platform to identify key messages and channels to inform the public about scenarios for short- to medium-term developments and how to respond to these scenarios.
Participants brainstormed different project ideas to strengthen and promote their communities’ engagement in Libya’s democratic transition. From raising awareness with the importance of voter registration for the upcoming municipal elections to facilitating town hall meetings where citizens discuss openly their views on state-building; the participants appeared determined to utilize all tools and resources at their disposal to formulate effectiveness messages to target Libyans in general, and women, minorities, and vulnerable groups in particular.
“We have to think out of the box as to how to reach out to the different segments of the community, especially youth”, Zahreddin Amjeed, from Sabha University Student Union, said. “Social media is a great tool to communicate with young Libyans. But we should not forget that human interaction is equally important. We should go to where youth gather; e.g. cafes, universities, etc. and provide them with the information they need to partake in shaping Libya’s future.” Amjeed added.
This event took place in the framework of DRI’s project “Strengthening Libyan Civil Society Engagement on the Constitution and Political Transition”, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.