The constitution is key to a solution in Libya

The constitution is key to a solution in Libya
Comment: Rival factions and the UN must sort out the country's constitution before there is any hope of national reconciliation, says Alfaitory Shoaib
4 min read
05 Mar, 2015
Only a real constitutional solution will end division, and in turn the fighting [AFP]

Reconciliation talks have been halted once again in Libya, with the internationally backed Tobruk parliament suspending its participation in the UN- sponsored talks between Libya's rival parties.

Though the Tobruk parliament did not explain its reasons, it is obvious that MPs fear they will lose legitimacy if a national unity deal is agreed with the rival parliament in Tripoli.

The main political party in Tobruk feels its interests and those of its supporters will be at risk if an agreement is reached over an executive body approved by the UN.

Bernardino Leon, the head of the UN support mission in Libya, as well as the Arab and foreign countries supporting a dialogue, believe that Libya's crisis can only only resolved politically.

However, the core of the division lies in the legislative, not the executive authority. An agreement over the legislative authority would fend off any divisions within the government.

     However, the core of the division lies in the legislative, not the executive authority.

Only such a solution can spare the country further differences and fragmentation.

Addressing government-related differences before resolving those of the legislative authority will only inflame further divisions and differences, even if the UN mediator tried to form a consensual cabinet which will be devoid of constitutional and legal grounds.

The UN envoy and his interlocutors are thus blamed for not discussing the work of the Constitutional Drafting Commission or even engaging it in the dialogue not as a party, but rather as one of the keys to resolve the crisis.

The deadline set for the commission to finish drafting a constitution for Libya ended in late December, which therefore leads us to the conclusion that had the constitution been drafted, it would have been discussed and undergone a referendum after the detente, under UN supervision in order to end the existing conflict in the legislative authority.

Only then can we move to the question of government and form an interim consensual cabinet in line with the constitution. But this notion was not on the agenda of the UN envoy .

The dilemma is rooted in laws before politics, ie, how to successfully agree on a constitution amid the legislative divisions which no consensual cabinet could resolve?

Many international and local parties are pushing hard for the formation of this cabinet, in the hope it would serve as a liaison between the state and the world and would be accepted by the Libyans.

Many deem it necessary to refer to and abide by the constitutional declaration, so that everyone recognises the ruling of the Constitutional Court, before forming a consensual government.

Earlier, Libya's highest court ruled that general elections held in June were unconstitutional and that the country's parliament and government, which resulted from that vote and now sits in Tobruk, should be dissolved.

     A final deadline must be set for the Constitutional Drafting Commission to present the constitution and put it to a vote.

This can only be achieved politically and legally by suspending the General National Congress (GNC), after forming the said government. After that, a permanent constitution could be put into effect after a referendum.

A final non-renewable deadline must be also set for the Constitutional Drafting Commission to present the constitution and put it to a vote.

In this case, the government can oversee the constitutional referendum, and settle the dispute, since it rests on legal foundations and is accepted by both sides of the conflict.

If a government is formed outside a constitutional declaration or the verdict of the highest court, conflict might be delayed for a while but a chasm will grow and the country will end up with no constitutional authority to be referred to.

Other catastrophes will ensue as a result of foreign intervention. In addition, chances of drafting a constitution for the country will be remarkably reduced.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.