An agreement signed today (18/12) between the Vice-President of Libya’s General National Council (GNC) Ghiuma Ataigha and IPU Secretary-General Anders B. Johnsson in Tripoli marks a significant step in Libya’s efforts to establish a parliamentary democracy.
The GNC, which was elected this summer and has appointed an interim government, has a year to organize elections based on a new constitution yet to be drafted. These elections will lead to the formation of a new parliament in a post-revolution Libya.
The agreement between the GNC and IPU follows a request from Libya to help ensure a smooth transition to democracy. IPU will initially focus on a priority programme of support that includes reviewing the rules and procedures in the way the 200-member GNC works and sharing worldwide parliamentary experiences by providing advice on the process of drafting a new constitution. It will also provide training and other support to the GNC secretariat in effectively carrying out its function, and to women members of the GNC in a bid to empower women’s political participation and help lay the foundations for a parliamentary institute that is gender attuned.
The Arab region currently has the lowest regional average of women in parliament in the world at 13.2 per cent. In Libya, 16.5 per cent of women were elected to the GNC. IPU research has shown that democratic transition provides a unique opportunity to address inequalities from the past.
“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,” says Anders B. Johnsson.
The agreement revitalizes IPU’s links with Libya, which first joined the organization in 1958.
A three member team of IPU experts will begin work at the beginning of January 2013. In addition, it will also carry out a comprehensive assessment on what is needed to rebuild an effective legislative body in the North African country that also fulfils its role of overseeing executive government and holding it to account. The assessment will lead to a strategic plan of action on achieving this.
IPU’s support to Libya follows similar efforts begun this year to support the establishment of parliamentary democracy and help in democratic transform in Myanmar and Tunisia and Egypt.