Tripoli, 28 December 2013:
There were demonstrations in Tripoli, Benghazi and Beida against the GNC “preliminary extension” decision of its lifetime beyond 7 February 2014 and until December 24 2014.
Many of the demonstrators in Tripoli and Benghazi, in their hundreds rather than in the thousands, were holding brooms as the symbol of their desire to “sweep away the GNC”.
The General National Congress (GNC), Libya’s interim legislative body, had voted on Monday 23 December, on the eve of Libya’s Independence Day holiday, by 102 to 24 in favour of a “preliminary” extension.
The decision by the GNC to “preliminary extend ” its life beyond February 2014 and until 24 December 2014, has been controversial.
There is no broad agreement or interpretation of the Transitional Constitutional Declaration (TCD) as to when in terms of time frame does the tenure of the interim GNC expire precisely.
There are two main contesting views. One view maintains that there should be no political or power vacuum and that the GNC should remain in power until it completes all its tasks as set out by the TCD of August 2011 – irrespective of time.
Supporters of this view see the timeline suggested by the TCD as a suggestion and a guideline to aim for.
The other and opposing view is that the GNC is an interim body and not a fully empowered parliament or assembly and that it was obliged to complete these tasks, but within the time frame set in the TCD, which is deemed by supporters of this view as ending on February 7th 2014.
Opponents of extension, such as those demonstrating on Friday, feel that the GNC should either seek a reaffirmation of its legitimacy by some kind of popular vote, or that it should dissolve itself.
However, the opponents of extension do not have a clear-cut or popular plan or mechanism of how to replace the GNC or what should replace it if it is indeed to be dissolved on 7 February 2014.
Critics of the GNC feel that it has performed poorly since its election in July 2012, especially its inability to choose a government that can improve the security situation, create an army and police, disband the militias, and in its dealings to end the various water, electricity, road, gas and oil blockades by ethnic minorities, Federalists, militias, war wounded and disgruntled employees.
This perceived poor performance by the GNC has meant that the GNC’s decision to extend its lifetime has been met with some disapproval.