Benghazi, 5 July:
Libya needs very strong government, says Dr Ahmed Beltamer, an independent candidate in Benghazi’s Garden City (Al Hadaek) district . . .[restrict]in Saturday’s National Conference elections. The present government and the NTC, he says, have been far too weak, particularly in the issue of security.
But it is not just the national government that needs to be strong. It is Benghazi’s local administration as well. Although very opposed to federalism, he says the city is crying out for powerful and effective local government. He is firmly committed to decentralisation. But decentralisation has to be about more than moving decisions away from Tripoli, he adds. Resources have to be provided to make decentralization work effectively. It is the lack of resources that have made Benghazi and other towns and cities in Libya the mess they are today.
Beltamer has a strong campaign going in Benghazi. But he is one of those candidates in Saturday’s contest who generates strong feelings either way. He brings into sharp focus the debate about “fresh faces” versus capability and experience.
There are those in Benghazi who are unhappy about the fact that he held a senior position as a technocrat under the Qaddafi regime — from 2005 until 2009 he was president of the Social Fund for Libya (in effect providing the funds for state pensions).
Others point to the fact that he resigned and broke with the regime but that in the four years he was in the job he streamlined the system, changed the work ethic in the department and managed to raise the fund from LD 200 million to LD 2.7 billion. For them, it is proof that he is precisely the sort of capable person who needs to be a member of the National Conference.
He himself says that he is will fight strongly for Benghazi. Moreover, he insists that if elected he would not support any party — at least not “for the time being”.
In normal circumstances, he is the sort of candidate who would probably sail through the election process given his capabilities. “He is a strong and clever man,” said one Benghazi resident.
But these are not normal circumstances and the fact that he worked under the previous regime may go against him.
He is far from the only candidate in the country in that position. [/restrict]