By Mohamed Eljarh.
Effective transitional governance is one of the most pressing challenges facing Libyan reconstruction and stabilization after the February 17 . . .[restrict]Revolution. However, the lack of functioning institutions of governance will be an obstacle on the way to securing lasting peace for the recently appointed new government. Effective governance is not a mission that the new prime minister can afford to ignore; it is a necessity for successful reconstruction and stabilization operations and the ultimate elimination of all the threats that face the new Libya.
It is essential for the new Libyan leaders empowered by the National Transitional Council to ensure that there is a mandate giving the new prime minister executive authority and providing adequate personnel and money for national and local governance, transitional strategies and administration.
In order for the new government to fulfil its role, it must be able to, firstly, procure enough resources to quickly set up ministries and other key local and national government institutions. Secondly, it must develop plans to provide resources to fund, train, and equip local and national civil service employees. Thirdly, the government will need to create a mission structure that provides for unity of purpose between civilian and military components and for broad participation from contributors by including key contributing nations and neighbouring countries such as Egypt, Qatar, the UAE and NATO countries in consultative, administrative or support structures.
Also — and equally important — is the creation of robust security forces who are authorised to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including robust police units capable of operating in conditions of anarchy. The country must have sufficient police, judicial and penal personnel to restore the rule of law, and embed governance advisors in the new structure where they will be responsible for establishing local authorities in disturbed areas such as Sirte and Bani Waleed in advance of civilian deployment. This is a key contribution to lasting peace.
It is worth pointing out that there is a short window of opportunity which typically lasts from the date of formal appointment to the eight-month deadline for the new government led by Abdurrahim Al-Kib to develop public institutions and programs. This window of opportunity can be effectively seized by incorporating legitimate components of the former local and national governance and bureaucratic structures into the transitional administration as quickly as possible. Also by implementing revenue-generating or revenue-management strategies and ensuring that the process of writing a constitution is inclusive, consultative, transparent and participatory — while also providing legal advisors and conducting public information campaigns on the process.
The new government will also need to create institutions of consultation and co-administration at the local and national levels by committing to empowering, training and funding local personnel all over the country in co-administrative or administrative governance structures and ensuring communication and co-ordination between local and national governance structures.
Corruption is another key challenge for the new government. For the new government to have credibility with the people, it has to curb corruption at all levels by providing legal advisors and consultants to help develop anti-corruption legislation, designing anti-corruption public education campaigns, empowering indigenous watchdog mechanisms, ensuring that civil service personnel are properly compensated and that they receive adequate salary payments in full and on time, and establishing a system of national meritocratic criteria for the civil service. The government will also need to provide initial accountability through audits and oversight in key agencies and ministries to ensure that political processes and institutions are transparent and accountable, and it will have to develop civil society’s monitoring capabilities so that they can operate as independent watchdogs.
Lastly, it is also essential to incorporate power brokers, including spoilers where possible, into the political process. If they refuse to be incorporated in the peaceful process, it has to restrain them from violence or else challenge them and remove them from the community. The new government should also seek out and empower new political leaders, especially those on the local level.
Furthermore, facilitate the development of political representation, the registration of political parties and candidates and the implementation of political education and training programs.
It is advisable to allow time for political processes and the rule of law to mature before holding national elections. One way of doing that can be by holding local elections when circumstances permit before national elections.
The towns of Zuwara, Musrata and Al-Abyar have held local elections in Libya to appoint their councils, and these elections have been very successful and shows the ability Libyans have in running their own affairs and practicing democracy at its best. It is also, essential to disarm and demobilize combatants and other armed groups and develop strategies to reintegrate these groups before elections are held and also to ensure that the rights of minorities are protected by the rule of law.
Mohamed Eljarh is a UK-based Libyan academic researcher and political, social development activist.
He is also co-founder and Public Affairs Director of the Libyan Academy for Creativity and Innovation. He is from the city of Tobruk in Eastern Libya. He can be contacted at [email protected] . [/restrict]