By Umar Khan Tripoli, 28 May:
The Minister of Local Government and the head of the government’s Crisis Committee, Mohammed Hadi Hashemi . . .[restrict]Harari, gave an exclusive interview to the Libya Herald. He spoke about the progress made by his ministry, problems facing him and the upcoming challenges after the elections.
Harari is one of the very few ministers who have the right qualifications for the role they are playing at this particular moment. He has an academic background. A lawyer and senior professor, he served as the dean of different faculties in Libyan universities. He has a doctorate in local government from Paris’ prestigious Sorbonne University.
He took part in the first demonstrations in Benghazi against Qaddafi in 1975 and 1976 and again after the subsequent brutal executions of students; he was convinced that the regime did not represent the people of Libya. He says: “It was the day when many families decided to migrate to other countries, realising that this system did not represent them.”
When asked about his political affiliation, Harari said: “Despite opposing Qaddafi from the very beginning, I never joined any political organisation. It’s a pity that the opposition was not united.” He says that the opposition was big but each had their own agendas and beliefs. Asked why he did not join any one of the opposition organisations, he replied, “I only had one cause but they had several. I never joined anyone because I couldn’t identify with their agendas”.
Speaking about his future plans he says, “I plan on writing books. I’ve no other intention but to serve my country in the best possible way”. Asked if he would join any political party, he said: “My vision is different from the other politicians. If you do politics without principles, then you have two faces and I can’t stand that.”
Asked when he became aware that he was being made the minister, he said, “I was in a conference giving a lecture on local administration when I was told that I had been nominated to the interim government. I never desired this role but I didn’t refuse for my country”.
Harari says that the main goal of the interim government is to reinstate security and stability. “The goal for all the ministries is to work and ensure security and stability for the country. We all worked on it. I was asked to head the Crisis Committee after the clashes in southern Libya. I agreed knowing that it was is not related to my ministry because these are sensitive times. It was very tense but our committee was instrumental in bringing normality back to Sebha.
“This is our biggest achievement”, says Harari speaking about the Draft Local Administration Law. “We sent the law to the NTC for final approval in April. We are still waiting for their response.” He says that he will meet with the NTC officials in the coming days to push for the approval of the law as it is absolutely necessary to give an obvious administrative body to the country. “The country will not stand on its feet without a proper local governance law,” he says.
“If the law is implemented in the right way it will bring security and stability to the country. I don’t think we should wait for the General Congress to do it,” he says. “With a proper local governing body in place, we can leave peace and security to the area councils or municipalities and the government can work on future strategies and leave the administration to the local councils .”
He says that the ministry has good dealings with the councils and that it is important to understand the fact that existing local councils are part of the solution. They should be supported in order to solve different problems. Harari stresses that he wants to establish this law before he leaves office so that a system is in place when the next government is announced which can then build on it and implement it in the right way.
Speaking about the elections for the existing local councils, he says, “We do not interfere in local affairs. Local councils can be made in two possible ways – one is through elections and the other through consensus. If it’s done with the agreement of all, it is the best. As for elections, we can only help them logistically. Alternatively we could just nominate people for the roles but that would be like the old Qaddafi system against which the revolution took place.
“The existing councils were organised under special circumstances and didn’t fall under the Ministry of Local Government. That is why we are pushing for the draft local administration law to be passed. We want all the municipalities to be elected, so they will be more representative of the people,” Harari explained. “It has been confirmed by research that the most important factor behind the development of a country is correct management. I believe that in no way should local management be under the shadow of the central government.
“After the revolution it is understandable that the government is weak and it is for the best if it transfers some extra powers to local authorities until it regains authority and power. But it should be done in subtle ways that don’t emphasize the weakness of the government.” He continues: “It is important that people respect the authority of the government and think about the country. It’s a pity that people think about their personal interests before thinking about the nation’s interest.” Speaking about the problems his ministry faced, Harrari said that “the main problem we face and the new administration will also face is the opportunist mentality that the government should give everything to the people without their active participation in the process”. He says that the government needs to take a practical approach to change this mentality of desperation and remove the distrust between government and people. “We cannot move forward with this mentality,” he adds.
Asked about the Municipal Police, he said the ministry was trying to reinstate the force and that even the former regime had no clear laws regarding cost and quality control. He said that a meeting was held last week between the customs department, municipality police and the ministry to explore ways to encourage them to return to duty. “They are under-equipped! They don’t have enough cars and communication equipment but we are trying to solve these problems. We are working with the customs department to ensure that no substandard products are imported. Soon you’ll see them all carrying out their duties.”
Speaking about improper addresses and the lack of infrastructure, Harrari said: “We not only need numbered streets with easy postal addresses but a census should be carried out as well.” He emphasized that it was just the beginning and such things would require planning and time to be done in a professional way. He said that the issue at the top of the government’s agenda was to provide a normal and secure environment for the people. “The government should ensure comfortable lives for people, not by giving them money but by providing services in a technically advanced way.
“We should work on simplifying the lives of people by providing them with electronic governance. They should be able to get their birth certificates off the internet, not by going around different offices.”
With the limited mandate of NTC, the chances for the approval of the draft local administration law put forth by Harari’s ministry seems rather bleak but he insists that he will try his best to see that the law is approved. “It will provide rights to people within society and map out the duties of all institutions. We must understand that we are standing under the shadow of a tree that was watered by the blood of tens of thousands of martyrs. It is the responsibility of every citizen to make sure the state is moving forward in the right direction.”
Umar Khan can be found at twitter.com/umarnkhan [/restrict]