By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 4 April 2013:
The General National Council’s (GNC) official spokesperson, Omar Hamaidan, confirmed at a press conference Tuesday that . . .[restrict]the GNC has been unable to reach agreement on the ‘constitutional amendment’ regarding the process by which the so called “Committee of Sixty” is chosen.
One of the main tasks, if not the main task, of the GNC as set out by the Transitional Constitutional Declaration (TCD), is the selecting of a committee of sixty people to draft the new Libyan constitution.
The sixty are to be selected on the basis of 20 from the east, 20 from the south and 20 from the west.
Initially, the TCD in August 2011 stipulated that the 60 are chosen by the GNC. However, on the last day of its tenure in 2012, the National Transitional Council (NTC), headed by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, amended the TCD so that the 60 must be elected by the general public.
It is believed that the NTC was forced to make this amendment in order to calm demands by Federalists in eastern Libya and in the face of a threat of a boycott of the 2012 GNC elections in the east.
For months after the elections, the GNC, feeling that it has the ultimate legitimacy and sovereignty, attempted to avoid the more troublesome process of election, preferring the easier selection route. However, under much political pressure, demonstrations and even armed attacks on its building, it caved in and announced that the 60 will be elected.
Only weeks later after reaching that decision, the whole subject was turned on its head again as the Constitutional Court revoked the NTC amendment, declaring it unconstitutional, meaning that the GNC could, after all, select the 60.
This has left the GNC in a quandary and exposed its political divisions. The GNC has always felt that it should have the right to select the 60. But over the months since its election, its legitimacy has been challenged by mainly those who hold the opposite view.
On Tuesday the GNC was yet again unable to find consensus and reach a decision they could sell to the general public. Its members are still torn between sticking to their first instinct to select the 60 or giving-in to populist demands to elect the 60.
Ultimately, they have decided to yet again postpone a vote on the issue to at least next week. A constitutional amendment to adjust the means of selecting the 60 needs a two-thirds majority. GNC members feel that they are unable to achieve such a high threshold. They are therefore considering whether to remove the two-thirds threshold requirement for the amendment, as a way to break the impasse. [/restrict]