By Sami Zaptia.
London, 28 June 2021:
The elected Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) said the Libyan people must be empowered to exercise their right to self-determination through a referendum on the completed draft constitution.
The revelation came in a leaked letter from the CDA addressed to the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High State Council (HSC).
The CDA said it had arrived at this conclusion because:
- The Libyan Supreme Court nullified the opponents’ arguments with the judicial principle that states that only the Libyan people can comment on the work of the (elected) CDA, who alone has the power to accept or reject the constitution.
- The constitution must be submitted to the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC) to take the necessary measures to start the referendum process, and that it be considered the constitutional basis on which the planned 24 December 2021 presidential and legislative elections are held.
Tug-of-war on constitutional basis
The statement by the CDA adds to the mix the conflicting views on whether there should or should not be a referendum held on the draft constitution. It also adds to the debate as to whether there is enough time to organize such a referendum – and what happens if the public reject it?
It will be recalled that Libya’s current temporary constitutional declaration (amended) prescribes that the draft constitution should be put to a referendum before becoming the country’s permanent constitution.
However, the temporary constitution also prescribed that any draft constitution emanating from the CDA should be approved by its minority peoples: Amazigh, Tebu and Tuareg. However, the current draft has not been approved by them which means it is very likely to be challenged in the courts.
Despite this, Ageela Saleh, the head of parliament (House of Representatives-HoR) insists this constitution is acceptable as the legal basis for the next elections. A large number of parliamentarians and members of HSC have called for the temporary adoption of the draft constitution for just one election – the 24 December one.
Nevertheless, the Amazigh Supreme Council insist that they will not support any election held on the draft constituion.