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Libyans react to Saif al-Islam's call for a constitution

By Jamel Arfaoui for Magharebia in Tunis – 10/05/10

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Libyans are giving mixed reviews to a call by Saif al-Islam al-Kadhafi to draft a constitution, with some voicing support and others scepticism.

The younger Kadhafi, whose father has ruled Libya for over 40 years, is widely seen as one of Libya's most prominent advocates of openness. He made his call for a constitution on May 5th while speaking at the American University in Cairo (AUC).

"The constitution is vitally important to realise prosperity in Libya. Therefore, the country has to speed up its steps towards reforming its administrative system," he said.

"We have to seriously and extensively review our way of government," he added. "This is the first priority."

There has been no constitution in Libya since the proclamation of the "people's authority", which according to the elder Kadhafi's Green Book bans the setting up of parties or the election of law-makers or a president under the rationale that "the people" alone should govern themselves.

The younger Kadhafi told attendees at the AUC event, who included Libyan expatriates and high-ranking officials in Egypt: "[W]e have neither a constitution in Libya, nor any form of political culture, nor community participation. There has been a history of lack of trust in the central leadership, and no one can resist the military rule in Libya."

"We are in need of a competent government. Our problem in Libya is competence. We have started from scratch and we'll soon have local administrations and municipalities," he added.

The younger Kadhafi acknowledged that "civil society in Libya is very weak" and that "one of the most important challenges we are now facing in Libya is how to build a strong civil society that works for the service of the country".

Libyan businessman Khalid Buraei said that the call for a constitution "is a good step". "We hope that [the constitution] will find its way towards implementation in the hopes that it will put an end to the chaos that the country is experiencing," he said. "We trust in [Kadhafi's] intention."

Journalist and rights activist Khalid Mohammed Mehiri said, "This is not the first call, and won't be the last."

"The street no longer believes these empty words," he added. "How can he talk about a constitution while the country is on its way into an abyss?"

Mahir Ahmed, a university student in Tripoli, also voiced doubts.

"This is a dream, but I'm more inclined to say that it won't be realised," he said. "Saif al-Islam couldn't even defend his own newspapers, which were forced to pull back. We will wait and see if he'll be able this time to honour this promise, which we heard from him a year ago. However, I think he's serious this time."

For her part, Libyan women's rights activist Hanan Qabbaj told Magharebia that "the features of the expected constitution are clear and don't need any speculation: Rehashing of the same old things in new formulas. They may even add more red lines, so as to bring us back to square one. We think that we won't make any progress."

In the course of speaking at AUC, the younger Kadhafi also revealed that the charity organisation that he runs is Swiss, rather than Libyan, and that it was registered in Geneva "because it's difficult to register organisations in Libya. It's an independent organisation that includes a unit for human rights, clearance of land mines and the treatment of addiction."

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    majid 2011-3-20

    Libya is on fire. Kadhafi is the man of the era. I support Kadhafi.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    بنت الفاتح 2011-3-20

    We don’t want a constitution or anything. We just want Moamer alone and for him we die. (expletive) Obama, Sarkozy, Cameron and all the Arab World. Moamer is stronger than then. No woman can gave birth to someone like him, by God! After these events, we want the brother Seif Al Islam to build us a second hand in front of the house of the leader to remain as a memorial to be visited by generations and tourists from the whole world as a proof of power and victory which will be sent by God, God willing. Moamer alone, Moamer alone! May God protect him and his sons!


  3. Anonymous thumb

    ليبي حر 2011-2-27

    We are the free people of Libya. We won’t give in to humiliation and those who have interests in our country. Wake up sons of Libya! Wake up sons of Libya, Libya is your country, there are plots against it. By God, it is their plans. May God assist you and assist your leader Moamer. By God, by God, wake up! God is the greatest!


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    Anonymous 2011-2-21

    If only my people, you would listen to words many times and understand it. All his words are true. Where are you? Where are your minds? We are Libyans and will remain Libyans with blood flowing in our veins. Take a second chance and try to reach a compromise peacefully.


  5. Anonymous thumb

    هوقو 2011-2-16

    You are rambling! We are in 2011, wake up! Everything is clear. The Day of Judgment will come soon and no one would be of any help to anyone. But you should say the truth. The truth is that Seif Al Islam is subtle, humble and very respectful. He just wants to reform things that are wrong in Libya. He wants to remove excessive lies and false slogans of which we have only seen destruction of Libya. Wake up! Be honest and respectable in front of God and in front of each other and the world which is watching you. Justice among people is important. The skies and earth were founded on justice. The wise understands but the idiot will remain idiot.


  6. Anonymous thumb

    sahid mohammed 2010-10-6

    Saif, if this could be done as said, it will bring an overall advancement to Libya and all Libyans


  7. Anonymous thumb

    سليمان شعيب 2010-8-17

    We want mediators Saif, our rights are lost.


  8. Anonymous thumb

    إيمان 2010-8-15

    My greetings to you brother Saif! Wish you more progress! Long live Libya and the Libyan people who fear only God!


  9. Anonymous thumb

    مواطن 2010-5-25

    To Mohamed El Hachni El Hadi El Asti. You forgot to put the number of your card, place of residence and place of work. You think your master Kadhafi will remove him and appoint you secretary, director of a company or even give you a double-cabin car.


  10. Anonymous thumb

    Essid 2010-5-23

    A constitution has great potential, but this potential can be good or bad. Given that Libya has been doing the waltz with foreign multinationals and given that Kadhafi and his son have both shown how much they respect European constitutions – not at all, in case you were not aware – I have a hunch that this constitution will be none other than a giant loophole to make foreign companies feel secure investing in Libya. However, when it comes to the citizens and their ability to trust in the constitution for their protection, you can be sure there will be nothing but disappointment. Libya has a lot of laws, most of which are never enforced unless they earn certain leaders a bit of money. This constitution will be no different. It will be a nice way to say, “Yes, multinational, you have the right to rape our citizens. No, citizens, you have no right to complain.”


  11. Anonymous thumb

    ليبي 2010-5-16

    Thank you Seif Al Islam! We hope you will achieve progress and continuity. Those who distorted the previous phase don't like what you say, are scared about its implementation and wish going backward so that they will prosper from robbing the people. Go ahead, we are with you, following way, supporting you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!


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    ليبي حر 2010-5-13

    In the name of God the most gracious the most merciful. To the brother Mohamed El Hachni, haven't you had enough of applauding this corrupt regime loyal to Zionism and America while it pretends it is fighting them? All your fake cards and false slogans were uncovered and their fate is to be the garbage of history. He, his sons and followers, were uncovered just like you, who plunder the resources of dear Libya, harass free sons of this nation by arrests in prisons for those with other opinions, or secret executions. In Libya, the state of oil, most ordinary people live beneth the poverty line while the followers of the regime, including mercenaries, live in luxurious palaces. There are about 250,000 teachers who haven't received their wages for years. There are many teachers who were transferred to the category of superfluous workers. A state in which the number of inhabitants is 6 million has excessive workers. Isn't this funny? Visit the streets of the capital, Tripoli, and you'll witness chaos with your own eyes. Since the oppressive coup on 1/9/1969, there's been no plan in Libya except the sole plan, which is how to steal the most from the resources of this country. Those who applaud the regime are just paid dogs and they aren't Libyans. To be continued.


  13. Anonymous thumb

    أوباها... 2010-5-11

    We have reached the era of modern Mouaouiyas, such that republicans appoint their sons in spite of their globally known mistakes. It is the responsibility of the inheritor - for years of unilateral repression in governing and imposing ideas from others buried in the "Green Book" - to speak, disseminate and talk to opponents of his father, knowing that those who took advantage of his father are under control. I think the operation is clear from Bechar and will continue with Jamal and Seif. With the resources he has, he has the right to make a review and assessment and influence people whose minds are brainwashed by the "Green Book". This is the difference between European republics, which are not inherited, and Arab republics, whose chairs have turned into thrones, but not like thrones of glorious history.


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    BEN 2010-5-11

    He figured it out! Since the oil prices are permitting, why not buy one? His neighbours have indeed tried this and it works, since this make them out to be “legitimate” to the exterior. The exterior, among other things, is in the midst of a crisis of (financial) values and no longer has any trouble in shaking dirty hands so as to maintain a lifestyle that pollutes. The exceptions are a few states that could care less about geopolitics, whether they are right or wrong to do so.


  15. Anonymous thumb

    محمدالهاشني الهادي الاسطي 2010-5-11

    In the name of God. The absence of a constitution in Libya is not the fault of the leader of revolution, as is claimed by some mercenaries, including businessmen and media specialists, because since the foundation of the authority of the people in Libya, it was supposed that these matters would be dealt with in co-ordination with popular conferences, since the leader relinquished his responsibilities regarding internal affairs of the state. His responsibilities were limited to governing foreign policy only. This is known by the public in Libya. If there is anyone to make accountable and blame for the absence of a constitution in Libya, it is the secretariats of the popular general conference and successive general popular committees since the declaration of authority of the people, and not Moamer Kadhafi, may God grant him long life to realise the dreams of prosperity, welfare and progress for the working masses who have the real interest.


  16. Anonymous thumb

    Anonymous 2010-5-10

    I would like to make a solemn appeal here to all the readers of Maghrebia to explain to me the insistence of Arab dictators on wanting to call their toilet paper a “constitution”.


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