By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 2 October 2016:
Mayors and councillors from up to 100 municipalities were in Tripoli today for a meeting called by the local government ministry. They demanded greater local powers. They also called for adequate budgets to act effectively on short-term crises such as rubbish collection and on longer-term infrastructure planning.
UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler, who went on to the meeting from talks with Presidency Council chairman Faiez Serraj, applauded the fact that 100 councillors had travelled long distances to be there. However other sources said that there were only 60 councils represented and all were from municipalities in the west of the country.
The gathering deplored the replacement in the east of elected mayors by military officers appointment of military officers. So far Cyrenaica military governor Major-General Abdul Raazaq Al-Nazhuri has fired six mayors, in Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Al-Abyar, Shihat and last week, Sidra.
Kobler said that the municipalities had a prime role to play in the political process. However there has been concern that he has not given as much attention to the mayors and councillors (the so-called ‘Municipal Stream ‘of the peace process) as his UNSMIL predecessor Bernardino Leon. In March 2015, during the Skirhat negotiations over the Libyan Political Agreement, Leon flew local councillors to Brussels for parallel talks. Leon argued that local councils were often better placed to inform and influence their constituents than national politicians.
Kobler did however make the point that he regretted that there were not many women nor younger people among the councillors who had come to today’s meeting. He said that Libya youth were being marginalised. Young people “were the fuel of the revolution” he said, “and the ones who can make change”.