Libya's political isolation law

It must be taken into account that the circles defending the Political Isolation Law which newly went into implementation are those which oppose pro-Western elements. Moreover the regional dynamics in the country also confront us as part of the issue...

Libya's political isolation law

Levent Basturk-World Bulletin

One of the most important issues currently on the Libyan agenda is the “Political Isolation” law. After the one week siege by militias of some state institutions, including the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs, the National General Congress met on May 5 and adopted the legislation. The law stipulates that individuals who were directly responsible for the degradation of administrative, political, economic and social life in the country during Gaddafi's 42-year administrative period be removed from the current administration and banned from politics for 10 years.

However, human rights organizations and some political formations are under the impression that the designated categories are too ambiguously defined. A commission established by Congress is to work on the exceptions which will clarify the ambiguity in the articles of the law. In its current form, the law is in such a condition which will affect the lives of half a million people. It is notable that discussions in the West regarding the isolation reveal the tendency of showing the process as the struggle of those who lost the elections to obtain legal power through other methods. Nevertheless it must be taken into account that the circles defending the Political Isolation Law which newly went into implementation are those which oppose pro-Western elements. Moreover the regional dynamics in the country also confront us as part of the issue...

Political actors likely to be affected by the law

The contents of the law in its current form may require the discharging of almost half the members of the government and Congress, starting with Congress President Muhammed Magarif and Prime Minister Ali Zidan. In fact it is among the demands of the militia groups which surrounded government buildings in order to ensure the vote on the isolation law. However, Zidan is among those in the opposition against the Gaddafi administration in the 1980s. This situation is proof that if the law were to be implemented in its current form, it would be interpreted broadly.

The National Forces Alliance (NFA), which under the leadership of Mahmoud Jibril makes up the largest group in Congress, was among those which objected most to the bill. NFA members are under the impression that the draft law directly targets Jibril. Jibril played a leading role between 2007 and 2011 as a technocrat who chaired the Libya National Planning Council and the National Economic Development Board during Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi's economic liberalization efforts. Moreover his being a member of the Warfalla, Libya’s largest tribe known for its support of the Gaddafi regime, and his being born in Bani Walid, recognized for its loyalty to Gaddafi even now, further complicates his situation. The discharge of Jibril would greatly undermine the NFA headed by him.

Jibril and Prime Minister Zidan, around whom there is the most speculation within the scope of isolation, advocate a pro-Western foreign policy. It is not de minimis that the victory of Jibril’s formation in Libyan elections was met with enthusiasm from the West. While Prime Minister Zidan included the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in the government so as to establish a broad-based government, his efforts to curb the political influence of the MB are evident. While it still remains unclear whether or not isolation will encompass Prime Minister Zidan and even Congress President Magarif, it currently appears almost certain that Jibril will not assume a position in official, political, or civil society organizations over the next ten years.

The segments most supportive of the legislation

The Muslim Brotherhood had announced their support of the isolation law while it was still a bill. According to the Brotherhood, the law does not intend to open the path for as extensive discharges as is alleged. Since the leadership of the Brotherhood was in exile during Gaddafi’s rule, they believe they will not be affected. A clause in the bill which could have harmed the Brother was removed before being submitted to Congress.

Islamist groups other than the Muslim Brotherhood had also adopted a stance in favor of the isolation law with the expectation that it would result in the discharge of Jibril and Zidan. Misrata-based Union for Homeland Party President Abdurrahman Sewehli and the Misrata militias were among those in the forefront advocating that the isolation law be passed with a comprehensive scope. In terms of the current delicate balance, the Misrata militias are in the position of an important military force. Misrata, which lost the most people among the forces opposing Gaddafi, view themselves as the guardian of the revolution, and consider the coming to power of Jibril and his circle as a counter-revolution. The prominence of Misratans among the militias which surrounded various government institutions should be considered in this context.

In short, assessing the debate regarding the isolation law as a political struggle only within the framework of the greed for power is a perspective dominant in Western circles and "liberal" ones within Libya. It is not possible to understand a development impacted by internal and external dynamics without taking into account all the characteristics and sensitivities of a transition period. 

Last Mod: 02 Temmuz 2013, 18:44
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