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Libyans debate constitution

Benghazi, al-Marj and a number of other cities in eastern Libya are holding workshops on the new constitution.

The Committee of 60, which is tasked with drafting the landmark document, has been meeting with civil society groups to listen to their views and add amendments.

One such workshop wrapped up January 12th at the al-Marj Hotel. Organised by the Morouj Organisation of Women, it reviewed the progress of the draft.

Attendees expressed their resentment concerning the ambiguity of the proposals submitted by the committees. Participants also voiced surprise at the failure of the body to organise a referendum on the form of government.

The public meetings came after the draft released last month by the constitutional committee sparked an outcry in political circles and on the Libyan street.

Dr Faraj Najem, a Libyan researcher, wrote on Facebook that there was “almost a consensus to return to the constitution of independence”.

“There is an emphasis that Benghazi be a capital just like Tripoli by virtue of all of its sacrifices and the federal system option, only following a public referendum in Cyrenaica,” he added.

For his part, Dr Abd Karim Amer said that there could be “no future for Libya and no continuity of the unity of its territory, unless with a federal system through a regional referendum. Otherwise the alternative is partition, though after a while.”

“I support the constitution of 1951 with some modifications to suit the times, because it is ready and does not require a lot of time for modification,” echoed Suleiman Elahwal, a 43-year-old journalist. “We need to save time; it is one of the constitutions hailed by scholars of constitutional law.”

Montasser Fadlallah, a 40-year-old jurist, said, “We must reject ideologies and parties, adopt the constitution of 1951 and postpone all amendments until the country stabilises.”

“Returning to the constitution of the founding fathers is the best option because it does not require any referendum,” commented Imran Naji, a 43-year-old employee. “It already exists and the referendum will be on some chapters only. Benghazi is the second capital; this is already stipulated in the constitution. There is no need to mention it because it is implicitly there.”

“We ask Mr Ali Tarhouni to adopt the constitution for Libya because it was never cancelled by any law, but frozen. Hence, they need to hurry up because the situation cannot support any delay and God save what remains of Libya and its people,” he added.

Intissar Basha, a 38-year-old lawyer, said that she read the draft and there was material that was not fully explained and with ambiguous interpretation.

“Therefore I think that the return to the constitution of 1951 is the best solution with the amendment of some articles through a referendum,” she added.


Article by Nadia Radwan, Magharebia.

This article was originally published here.

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