Politics of Libya

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The Politics of Libya is in an uncertain state due to the collapse of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in 2011 and an ongoing civil war between the Council of Deputies in Tobruk and its supporters, the New General National Congress in Tripoli and its supporters, and various jihadists and tribal elements controlling parts of the country.[1]

Libyan Political Agreement (2015)

Members of the House of Representatives and the New General National Congress signed a political agreement on 17 December 2015.[2] Under the terms of the agreement, a nine-member Presidential Council and a seventeen-member interim Government of National Accord was formed, with a view to holding new elections within two years.[2] The House of Representatives would continue to exist as a legislature and an advisory body, to be known as the State Council, was formed with members nominated by the New General National Congress.[3]

General National Congress

The General National Congress was the legislative authority of Libya. It was elected by popular vote on 7 July 2012, and from 8 August replaced the National Transitional Council that had governed the country since the end of the Libyan Civil War.[4][5][6] The General National Congress was composed of 200 members of which 80 were elected through a party list system of proportional representation, and 120 were elected as independents in multiple-member districts.[7][8]

The executive branch was appointed by the GNC and led by the Prime Minister, while the President of the GNC was the de facto head of state, though not explicitly described as such in the Declaration.[9]

The main responsibility of the GNC was to form a constituent assembly which would write Libya's permanent constitution, for approval by a referendum. The law of Libya is based on sharia.[10]

Different interpretation of Constitutional Declaration about the deadline of General National Congress (GNC) lead to chaos across the country. The GNC's extended its mandate, dividing Libyans, stoking tensions and fears of a political vacuum.

The Alliance of National Forces, a liberal grouping and key political force, had sponsored a number of demonstrations demanding the dissolution of the GNC.

But the Operations Cell of Revolutionaries, an Islamist militia of ex-rebels said to be close to the army, had lined up behind the GNC, and the powerful armed groups from Libya's third city Misrata called the body "a red line."

Rival former rebels from Zintan, an influential force in post-Gaddafi Libya, vowed to protect any popular movement that goes against the GNC.

Mufti Sadek al-Ghariani, Libya's top religious authority, has defended "the legitimacy of the GNC" and warned against chaos in the country.

The "February Committee"

The General National Congress decided to adopt the proposal of the “February Committee”, a 15-member group tasked with drafting an amendment to Libya’s Constitutional Declaration to draw up a roadmap for more democratic progress in the form of well-organized presidential and legislative elections.

The GNC implemented this proposal, called the Seventh Constitutional Amendment, on March 11, 2014. The amendment declared the need for presidential and parliamentary elections.

Article 11 of the amendment spelled out the need to quickly resolve the matter of how exactly Libya’s future President would be elected:

“The proposal made by the February Committee shall be applied and the elected Council of Representatives shall decide on the issue of electing the interim president through direct or indirect ballot, in no more than 45 days as from the date of holding its first session.”

This paragraph was voted in March 11, 2014, among other items, and it passed. Through this vote, this February Committee proposal became fully adopted. But factional differences continued to emerge around this adoption, which eventually resulted in a challenge at the country’s highest level of judicial power, the Libyan Supreme Court.

The February Committee’s proposal became part of the Constitutional Declaration and represents Libya’s third transition period. The GNC also adopted the February Committee’s suggestions for how Libya would carry out its first legislative election, and named these proposals as Law No. 10. Thus, on June 25, 2014, Libya voted in its first House of Representatives.

Council of Deputies / House of Representatives

On 30 March 2014, the General National Congress voted to replace itself with a new House of Representatives, formally known as the Council of Deputies. The new legislature would allocate 30 seats for women, would have 200 seats overall (with individuals able to run as members of political parties) and allow Libyans of foreign nationalities to run for office.[11]

The Council of Deputies was formed following June 2014 elections, when the General National Congress formed as a transitional body after the Libyan Revolution dissolved.

However, on November 7, 2014 the Supreme Court dismissed the whole election as illegal, invalidating the entire legislative and elective process leading to the establishment of the House of Representatives (HoR). This meant the HoR was effectively dissolved. However, the HoR and the international community ignored the judicial authority of the Supreme Court for perceived political progress at the time.[12] While the Supreme Court declared it illegal and voided the results of the election in November 2014, the Council of Deputies enjoyed widespread international recognition as Libya's official government. The court ruling was hailed by the GNC and its backers, but it was rejected as invalid by the Council of Deputies and its loyalists.[13][14]

GNC reconvened in August 2014, citing the Supreme Court decision, refusing to recognize the new parliament.[15] Supporters of the New General National Congress swiftly seized control of Tripoli, Libya's constitutional capital.

Due to controversy about constitutional amendments the Council of Deputies refused to take office from the GNC in Tripoli and instead the newly elected parliament established itself in Tobruk, near the Egyptian border.

Against this backdrop of division, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Ansar al-Sharia, as well as other militant groups both religious and tribal in nature, have seized control of several cities and districts across Libya, especially in Cyrenaica, which is theoretically under the control of the Tobruk-based government.[16][17][18] A number of commentators have described Libya as a failed state or suggested it is on the verge of failure.[19][20][21][22]

In early December 2015 both parliaments, the GNC and the Council of Deputies, agreed a declaration of principles calling for the formation of a joint ten-person committee to name an interim prime minister and two deputies, leading to new elections within two years.[23]

Changes after the 2011 Civil War

Political parties were banned in Libya from 1972 until the removal of Gaddafi's government, and all elections were nonpartisan under law. However, during the revolution, the National Transitional Council (NTC), a body formed on 27 February 2011 by anti-Gaddafi forces to act as the "political face of the revolution", made the introduction of multiparty democracy a cornerstone of its agenda. In June 2011, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said his father would agree to internationally monitored general elections, and would step down if he lost them, but his offer was refused by the rebels and ignored by the UN Security Council.[24]

On 8 March, the NTC issued a statement in which it declared itself to be the "sole representative all over Libya".[25] The council formed an interim governing body on 23 March. As of 20 October 100 countries declared full support to the council by severing all relations with Gaddafi's rule and recognizing the National Transitional Council as the rightful representative of Libya.

On 3 August 2011, the NTC issued a Constitutional Declaration which declared the statehood of Libya as a democracy with Islam as its state religion, in which the state guarantees the rule of law and an independent judiciary as well as civic and human basic rights (including freedom of religion and women's rights), and which contains provisions for a phase of transition to a presidential republic with an elected national assembly and a democratically legitimized constitution by 2013. Vice Chairman Abdul Hafiz Ghoga declared Libya to be "liberated" on 23 October 2011, announcing an official end to the war. Chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil said Libya would become an Islamic democracy in the wake of Gaddafi's death, though the extent of Islamic law's influence would be determined by elected lawmakers.[26] Ghoga later confirmed that Libya will continue to adhere to all international agreements to which it was signatory prior to the uprising.[27]

On 7 July 2012 an election was held for the General National Congress (GNC) to replace the NTC. There were 2,501 candidates for the 200 seats - 136 for political parties and 64 for independent candidates. About 300 candidates' views were considered unacceptable and removed from candidates list, suspected of sympathizing with the defeated forces of the Jamahiriya. Accreditation centers have also been organized in European cities with larger Libyan communities like Berlin and Paris, in order to allow Libyan nationals there to cast their vote.[28] On 8 August 2012 the NTC officially dissolved and transferred power to the General National Congress.

Political parties and elections

On 7 July 2012, the Legislative body – the General National Congress – was elected.

List of parties with seats in the General National Congress

List of parties without seats in the General National Congress

International organization participation

The National Transitional Council has pledged to honour Libya's international commitments until the 2012 elections.


Libyan politics under Muammar Gadaffi

After originally rising to power through a military coup d'etat in 1969, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's governance of Libya became increasingly centric on the teachings of his Green Book, which he published in the mid-1970s chapter by chapter as a foundation for a new form of government.[34] This jamahiriya, as he called it, was supposedly a form of direct democracy in which power was balanced between a General People's Congress, consisting of 2,700 representatives of Basic People's Congresses, and an executive General People's Committee, headed by a General Secretary, who reported to the Prime Minister and the President. However, Gaddafi retained virtually all power, continuing to operate and control vestiges of the military junta put in place in 1969.

Wanted figures

Interpol on 4 March 2011 issued a security alert concerning the "possible movement of dangerous individuals and assets" based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970, which imposed a travel ban and asset freeze. The warning lists Gaddafi himself and 15 key members of his government:[35]

  1. Muammar Gaddafi: Responsibility for ordering repression of demonstrations, human rights abuses. *Killed October 20, 2011 in Sirte*
  2. Dr. Baghdadi Mahmudi: Head of the Liaison Office of the Revolutionary Committees. Revolutionary Committees involved in violence against demonstrators.
  3. Abuzed Omar Dorda: Director, External Security Organisation. Government loyalist. Head of external intelligence agency.
  4. Major General Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr: Defense Minister. Overall responsibility for actions of armed forces.
  5. Ayesha Gaddafi: Daughter of Muammar Gaddafi. Closeness of association with government.
  6. Hannibal Muammar Gaddafi: Son of Muammar Gaddafi. Closeness of association with government.
  7. Mutassim Gaddafi: National Security Adviser. Son of Muammar Gaddafi. Closeness of association with government
  8. Al-Saadi Gaddafi: Commander Special Forces. Son of Muammar Gaddafi. Closeness of association with government. Command of military units involved in repression of demonstrations.
  9. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: Director, Gaddafi Foundation. Son of Muammar Gaddafi. Closeness of association with government. Inflammatory public statements encouraging violence against demonstrators.
  10. Abdulqader Yusef Dibri: Head of Muammar Gaddafi's personal security. Responsibility for government security. History of directing violence against dissidents.
  11. Matuq Mohammed Matuq: Secretary for Utilities. Senior member of government. Involvement with Revolutionary Committees. Past history of involvement in suppression of dissent and violence.
  12. Sayyid Mohammed Qadhaf Al-dam: Cousin of Muammar Gaddafi. In the 1980s, Sayyid was involved in the dissident assassination campaign and allegedly responsible for several deaths in Europe. He is also thought to have been involved in arms procurement.
  13. Khamis Gaddafi: Son of Muammar Gaddafi. Closeness of association with government. Command of military units involved in repression of demonstrations.
  14. Muhammad Gaddafi: Son of Muammar Gaddafi. Closeness of association with government.
  15. Saif al-Arab Gaddafi: Son of Muammar Gaddafi. Closeness of association with government.
  16. Colonel Abdullah Senussi: Director Military Intelligence. Military Intelligence involvement in suppression of demonstrations. Past history includes suspicion of involvement in Abu Selim prison massacre. Convicted in absentia for bombing of UTA flight. Brother-in-law of Muammar Gaddafi.

The NTC has been in negotiations with Algeria and Niger, neighboring countries to which members of the government and defecting military commanders have fled, attempting to secure the arrest and extradition of Al-Saadi Gaddafi and others.[36]

Of these officials, Baghdadi Mahmudi and Abuzed Omar Dorda were arrested,[37][38] while Saif al-Arab Gaddafi was killed by a NATO airstrike during the war,[39] Khamis Gaddafi was killed in action after the fall of Tripoli,[40] and Muammar and Mutassim Gaddafi, as well as Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, were killed during the fall of Sirte.[41]

See also


  1. Pelham, Nicolas (February 2015). "Libya Against Itself". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  2. 1 2 http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/17/libyan-politicians-sign-un-peace-deal-unify-rival-governments
  3. http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2015/12/25/Libyan-deal-on-course-but-who-is-on-board-.html
  4. Michel Cousins (24 July 2012). "National Congress to meet on 8 August: NTC". Libya Herald. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  5. "NTC to Transfer Power to Newly-Elected Libyan Assembly August 8". Tripoli Post. 2 August 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  6. Esam Mohamed (8 August 2012). "Libya's transitional rulers hand over power". Boston.com. Associated Press. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  7. "Libya elections: Do any of the parties have a plan?". BBC News. 6 July 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2012.
  8. Margaret Coker (22 June 2012). "Libya Election Panel Battles Ghosts". The Wall Street Journal.
  9. "Libya leader Magarief vows to disband illegal militias". BBC News. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2013. Mr Magarief, the parliamentary speaker who acts as head of state until elections next year.
  10. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2013/12/libya-assembly-votes-sharia-law-2013124153217603439.html
  11. "Congress votes to replace itself with new House of Representatives". Libya Herald. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  12. "Libyan Elections | Libya Analysis". www.libya-analysis.com. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  13. "Libya faces chaos as top court rejects elected assembly". Reuters. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  14. "Libyan parliament defies supreme court ruling". Al Arabiya. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  15. "Libya's outgoing parliament elects PM". 25 August 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  16. Benotman, Noman (24 October 2014). "Libya has become the latest Isil conquest". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  17. "Baghdadi vs. Zawahri: Battle for Global Jihad". U.S. News and World Report. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  18. Moore, Jack (29 January 2015). "Al-Qaeda 'Islamic Police' on Patrol in Libyan City Contested With ISIS". Newsweek. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  19. "Libya's government holed up in a 1970s hotel". BBC News. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  20. "The next failed state". The Economist. 10 January 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  21. Murray, Rebecca (16 February 2015). "Libya anniversary: 'The situation is just terrible'". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  22. Anderson, Jon Lee (23 February 2015). "The Unravelling". The New Yorker. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  23. "Rival Libyan lawmakers sign proposal for peace deal". Yahoo. Reuters. 6 December 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
  24. "Rebels dismiss election offer, NATO pounds Tripoli". Reuters. 16 June 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  25. "Ferocious battles in Libya as national council meets for first time". NewsCore. 6 March 2011.
  26. "Libya declares 'liberation,' path to elections, constitution". The Los Angeles Times. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  27. "Sun, 23 Oct 2011, 17:09 GMT+3 - Libya". Al Jazeera Blogs. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  28. High National Election Commission: Press Release 16. June 2012
  29. "Libyan Election Party List Results: Seats Per Party by District" (PDF). POMED. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
  30. Beaumont, Peter (3 December 2011), "Political Islam poised to dominate the new world bequeathed by Arab spring", The Guardian, retrieved 31 January 2012
  31. Spencer, Richard (19 November 2011), "Libyan cleric announces new party on lines of 'moderate' Islamic democracy", The Telegraph, retrieved 31 January 2012
  32. "First Islamist party emerges in Libya". Hurriyet Daily News. 11 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  33. Federalists launch political party, 1 August 2012, retrieved 2 August 2012
  34. Country Profile: Libya (PDF). Library of Congress Federal Research Division (April 2005).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  35. Interpol File No.: 2011/108/OS/CCC, 4 March 2011.
  36. "NTC Demands Niger Returns Saadi, Officials from Al Qathafi Regime". Tripoli Post. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  37. "Former Libyan PM arrested, jailed in Tunisia". Taipei Times. 24 September 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  38. MacLean, William (11 September 2011). "Exclusive: Gaddafi spy chief Dorda arrested". Reuters. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  39. "Saif al-Arab: A playboy known for his hard-living ways". London. The Independent. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  40. "Gaddafi's feared son Khamis 'confirmed dead', claims NTC". The Daily Telegraph. London. The Telegraph. 4 September 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  41. El Gamal, Rania (23 October 2011). "Clues to Gaddafi's death concealed from public view". Reuters. Retrieved 23 October 2011.

External links

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