Libya’s parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR), failed to pass into law the referendum bill for the country’s permanent constitution in today’s session.
However, the HoR’s official spokesperson, Abdalla Belheeg, reported that the constitution referendum law was agreed by the 90-plus members present at today’s session ‘‘on the basis that article 6 of the referendum bill is improved through an amendment to (Libya’s Temporary) Constitutional Declaration in a session after the Eid (holidays)’’.
Article 6 of the referendum bill stipulates that Libya is divided into three constituencies for the referendum vote. This stipulation is contrary to Libya’s current operative Temporary Constitutional Declaration of 2011 (as amended by the 2014 GNC February Committee).
The session was marked by drama in the shape of gunshots being fired. There are claims and counter claims regarding the exact details. One version is that an HoR member accidently let off his gun injuring a member of the HoR security guards. Others say it shot was fired outside the entrance to breakup a scuffle between opposers of the bill trying to prevent supporting members from entering the chamber.
It will be recalled that HoR head, Ageela Saleh, had promised that the referendum bill would be passed into law by end of July. Moreover, Ageela Saleh was one of the co-signatories of the 29 May 2018 joint communique with Faiez Serraj, Khaled Mishri and Khalifa Hafter at the end of the Paris conference on Libya.
The Paris agreement had committed the signatories to constitutional based Libyan elections, an electoral law to be passed by the HoR by 16 September 2018, Libyan parliamentary and presidential elections by 10 December 2018, an acceptance of the election results by all parties, an end to parallel state institutions and unified military and security institution.
However, there seems to be a reluctance to go ahead with Libyan elections as early as December by some members of the international community. This was discerned during the visits by French and Italian Ministers to Libya in July this year.
Italy, supported by the U.S, is seen as being in opposition to holding an election prior to Libyans achieving ‘‘real’’ reconciliation. In contrast, France, continues to push for December elections. Italy and France have come in for criticism from the Libyan public, the Faiez Serraj Tripoli government and the HoR. Italy has denied it is interfering in influencing the date of Libya’s planned elections.