Tripoli, 21 December:
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed on Tuesday between the General National Congress (GNC) and the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The agreement, signed at Tripoli’s Mehari Hotel by the GNC Vice-President Juma Ateega and IPU Secretary-General Anders B. Johnsson, “follows a request from Libya to help ensure a smooth transition to democracy”, according to the IPU.
In a statement, the IPU said that it would initially focus on a priority programme of support which would include reviewing the rules and procedures in the way the GNC worked as well as providing advice on the process of drafting a new constitution.
The IPU is also to provide training and other support to the GNC secretariat to enable it to function effectively as well as to Congresswomen in order to empower women’s political participation and “help lay the foundations for a parliamentary institute that is gender attuned”.
According to the IPU, the Arab world currently has the lowest average of women in parliament around the globe: 13.2 percent. The figure in Libya is slightly higher — 16.5 percent of women were elected to the GNC.
“Libya has set out a clear path to putting in place a fully democratic system in the country in the next year. IPU is committed to providing whatever support is required of us to helping Libya achieve its democratic goals as smoothly and as quickly as possible,” said Johnsson.
The agreement restores IPU’s links with Libya which first joined the organisation in 1958. Qaddafi who hated the parliamentary system and demolished the parliament building in Tripoli (the site is now a café), broke the links.
A three-member team of IPU experts is to begin work next month. It will also carry out a comprehensive assessment on what is needed to rebuild an effective legislative body that oversees executive government and holds it to account.
The IPU’s support for Libya follows similar efforts begun this year to support the establishment of parliamentary democracy in Tunisia and Egypt. [/restrict]