Libya’s largest parliamentary group boycotts congress

Updated 08 January 2013
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Libya’s largest parliamentary group boycotts congress

TRIPOLI: Libya’s largest parliamentary coalition boycotted the national congress for a second day on Monday, protesting at delays in forming a committee to draft the country’s first constitution, a spokesman said Monday.
The National Forces Alliance (NFA) bloc, formed last year by liberal war-time leader Mahmoud Jibril and holding 39 of the 80 seats in parliament, walked out of the session late on Sunday and did not show up for the meeting on Monday.
“We have withdrawn from the congress meetings because it has not met its duties in making the constitution a reality,” bloc spokesman Tawfiq Breik told Reuters.
Libya desperately needs a viable government and system of rule so that it can focus on reconstruction and on healing the divisions opened up by the war that toppled Muammar Qaddafi.
It has never had a constitution, being ruled by a bizarre set of laws drawn up by Qaddafi in his Green Book.
The new charter is to be drawn up by 60 members elected by Libyans, but the election is still only a distant promise rather than a near prospect because of internal squabbling and administrative delays.
The majority of parliamentarians in Libya’s General National Congress are civilian professionals and former exiled opposition members with little or no political experience or knowledge of how to run a government.
Congressional sessions usually last for hours with members making vague speeches, asking off-topic questions, or arguing personal drama.
Last month, tempers rose over a disagreement and one member walked across the congress and punched another member.
Breik said that according to congress’s mandate, elections to vote for the committee to draft the constitution should have already been under way.
“Instead now we are still debating in congress if we should elect the constitutional committee or to appoint them,” he said.
Breik said the NFA bloc was also protesting at a lack of transparency in how parliamentary sessions set agendas; delays in proper security for congress members after their building was attacked by protesters several times last year; and the failure to adopt procedural rules for the congressional sessions.
“We don’t want to hinder the work of the congress, but if it continues in this way the congress’s work won’t be advancing anyway,” Breik said.


Campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

Updated 24 April 2018
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Campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

  • Lebanon's independent Sabaa party talks about exploitation of positions and money.
  • Several young men from the Sabaa party demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior.
BEIRUT: Sectarian and partisan polarization resulting from fierce competition for parliamentary seats in Lebanon has led to the first armed clash between two rival Druze parties.
Machine guns were used in the clash between the Progressive Socialist Party, led by MP Walid Jumblatt, and the Lebanese Democratic Party, led by Talal Arslan, which took place on Sunday evening in the city of Choueifat, about 5 km south of Beirut.
The two parties’ leaders acted quickly to calm their supporters.
“When politicians plant seeds of hatred and grudges among people, they commit a crime against citizens who have been breaking bread together for centuries,” Jumblatt said in a tweet.
In a joint statement, the two parties stressed “the need to avoid any steps that could provoke anger among supporters or disturb citizens who look forward to freely exercising their right to vote in an atmosphere of democratic competition.”
The two parties, alongside other parties with supporters in Choueifat, such as Hezbollah, the Lebanese Forces, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Amal Movement, have agreed on “disowning anyone who breaches security, requesting that the security forces intensify their presence in Choueifat, identifying fixed locations until the elections are over, and restraining from carrying out provocative processions.”
Campaigning lasts 24 hours before polling and has seen various kinds of violations of the electoral law.
Several young men from the Sabaa party — a group of independent activists — demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior, carrying banners questioning the ministry’s role in election-related issues.
“Serious violations are taking place because the country is out of control; many are exploiting their positions and pouring (in) their money, and conflicts are happening at grassroots level — people are tearing down photos of candidates and individuals are fighting with one another,” said Gilbert Hobeish on behalf of the demonstrators.
He added: “This is unacceptable, and the minister of interior must take responsibility.”
Hobeish criticized the Electoral Supervisory Commission, saying “it only oversees the civil society or change candidates.”
“We reject this in toto,” he said.
Ali Al-Amin, a candidate on the Shbaana Haki electoral list (who was assaulted last Sunday by Hezbollah supporters in the town of Shaqra because he hung his photo outside his house), held a press conference in the town of Nabatiyah Al-Fawqa and renewed his protest against “the tyranny that silences voices, oppresses liberties and acts on its own will and temperaments, making us feel as if we were in the law of the jungle era.”
He said that “resistance isn’t anyone’s property nor is it one party’s ownership.”
He also called on “the free people of the south to decide which life they wanted and to which homeland and identity they belonged.”
Campaign fever is rising in Lebanon 48 hours before the elections are held for the first time for Lebanese communities in several Arab countries. These elections are to be held 11 days before parliamentary elections take place inside Lebanon.