The interim government has passed a law – No. 57, dated 21 February 2012 – under which the department dealing with . . .[restrict]the National Unified Number Project and all related projects will operate under the Cabinet Office.
The National Number Project was begun by the previous regime in an attempt to organize and digitize the identity numbers of all Libyan citizens. The previous regime marketed the project on its website as a means of ensuring an equitable distribution of wealth to all Libyans and also as a means of reducing corruption. It was deemed a secure system as Libyans had to visit centres in person with all relevant documentation, have a photograph taken and also submit a DNA sample.
The Libya Herald carried an article last week about the Central Bank of Libya’s (CBL) concerns over the National Unified Number Project. In that statement, regarding the planned distribution of LD 2,000 to every Libyan family and LD 200 to every unmarried person, the bank identified the problem of a person’s identity and the National Unified Number.
It highlighted the fact that Libya, under the previous regime, had a major problem with identity fraud. The CBL cited “the presence of forgeries in the blue-coloured family books issued”. It also stated that “the rate of execution of the National Unified Number Project is about 480,000 family heads – about 2.2 million Libyans which is only 40% of the target.” In short, it was pointing out that it felt there was no definitive official database of Libyans which it could use for distributing the said amounts.
The issue of Libya’s exact population, and of those physically living in Libya – technically or legally – who are or who are not ‘Libyan’, is a controversial topic at the moment.
This was brought to a head when the old regime, during its dying days, purportedly distributed thousands of Libyan identity cards and passports to non-Libyans in an effort to gain numerical and military support.
Moreover, some of the top officials of the old regime are allegedly of non-Libyan origin and were allegedly only recently naturalized by the late dictator.