Center for Electoral Forensics

Libya’s Next Election

[Flag of Libya]That the Arab Spring brought many changes to Libya is an understatement. The February 2011 revolution starting in Benghazi overthrew Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who had led Libya since 1969, and replaced him with the National Transitional Council. That transitional body was replaced with the General National Congress, whose job was to govern Libya until the Constitutional Assembly passed a new constitution.

It is now 2014, and Libya still does not have that permanent constitution. Where did it go wrong?

[Muammar Qaddafi]

Former Libyan Leader, Muammar Qaddafi

After the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, there was much joy and hope throughout Libya. However, problems immediately arose. The modern state of Libya is composed of three distinct regions: Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica (article: Cyrenaica Reborn?). Libya's capital, Tripoli, is located in Tripolitania. The 2011 revolution started in Cyrenaica's capital city, Benghazi. These two regions are separated by the Gulf of Sidra and desert.

Thus, the most important need for nation-building has yet to be accomplished. There is no Libyan (article: Creating “Libyans”). Even the General National Congress is effectively separated by region. While the center-right National Forces Alliance became the first party in the new legislature, it was only with 39 of the 80 available partisan seats. Compare this to the second party, the the Islamicist Justice and Construction party, which received just 17 of those seats. The National Forces Alliances is strong in Tripolitania; the Justice and Construction party, in Cyrenaica.

This lack of unity has severely hampered Libya's stability. Militias run rampant. In this milieu, the General National Congress has done little except elect Presidents and Prime Ministers and dismiss Presidents and Prime Ministers.

To help with the security situation in Libya, the General National Congress announced the next elections: June 25, 2014.

Unfortunately, I am not convinced that this is the correct move.

To rectify this worsening security situation, a constitution is needed. To get that constitution, the Constituent Assembly needs the freedom to do its job. It also needs security, non-partisanship, knowledge, and wisdom. That's a tall order for any nation, especially for one that has yet to be a nation.