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Inside Story
Libya's long road to democracy
As Libyans elect a General National Congress, will the new representatives be able to bridge the country's divisions?
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2012 08:12

Nine months after the end of Libya's uprising, Libyans head to the polls for the first free elections in decades. They will elect a 200-member assembly that will be called the General National Congress.

This body will appoint a prime minister and draft a new constitution. The road to democracy has been a tumultuous one for the people of Libya - the National Transition Council, which has run the country since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled, has struggled to maintain security or deal with competing claims for regional autonomy.

Many Libyans hope that the elections mark a step forward in a country that has been crippled by uncertainty and insecurity, but the new government will have to confront a series of major issues:

  • The transitional government has failed to break the stranglehold of the militias that helped to remove Gaddafi. Many now use their firepower for political advantage. A new government will have to find a way to disband them and integrate into a regular, unified army.

  • Since Gaddafi's overthrow, tribal, regional and ethnic divisions have paralysed Libya. A new government will have to manage renewed claims for autonomy in the country's eastern province as well as in the south.

  • A lack of security is also leading to armed clashes. Libya's new rulers will have to work swiftly to establish the rule of law and build a justice system that will serve as Libyans' only recourse for settling disputes.

  • As the world's fifth largest producer of oil, many Libyans hoped their country would become a magnet for investment. But the collapse of authority has left the country's economy in tatters.

So, what are the hurdles in Libya's process of transition? Is Libya ready for democratic rule? And will the people's representatives be able to bridge the many divisions in the post-Gaddafi era?

Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses with guests: Abdulmuneim Sbeta, a civil society activist and chairman of Libya's leading NGO, the national support group; Mohamed Eljarh, an academic and specialist on Libyan affairs; and Anas El Gomati, the director of governance and security at a Tripoli based think-tank, Sadeq Institute.


LIBYA'S LANDMARK ELECTIONS:

  • Libyans vote in the first freely held election in 50 years
  • Over 2,500 candidates are contesting just 200 seats in the General Assembly
  • Around 500 female candidates are running in this election
  • 3 million people are eligible to vote in Libya's first post-Gaddafi elections
  • The new General Assembly will appoint a new prime minister and oversee the drafting of a constitution
  • Some Libyans have called for a boycott of the vote
  • The 'Council of Cyrenaica' is seeking autonomy in Libya's eastern region
  • Libyans in the east are unhappy about the division of seats in the assembly
  • Western Libya is allotted 120 seats and the east gets the remaining 80 seats
  • Libya's NTC has failed to disband the militias that ousted Gaddafi
  • Militia's seized Tripoli's airport last week over a dispute with the NTC

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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