Libya rebels prepare for democratic transition
By Asmaa Elourfi for Magharebia in Benghazi – 19/05/11
Dr Salwa Fawzi El-Deghali is a member of Libya's National Transitional Council (TNC), the body tasked with preparing a post-Kadhafi government. As chair of the Legal Advisory Committee, El-Deghali is intimately involved in the work of rebuilding a functioning government, re-establishing law and order and preparing for elections.
El-Deghali is also charged with documenting Moamer Kadhafi's violent crackdown and alleged crimes against humanity and is preparing evidence on Kadhafi for the International Criminal Court (ICC). Magharebia sat down with her in Benghazi to hear her side of the story.
Magharebia: What is your role in the National Transitional Council (NTC)?
Salwa El-Deghali: Our committee is in charge of putting together drafts for laws and rules regulating the transitional period. We are not writing a constitution. We have formed several sub-committees to discuss and solve the legal problems that are facing the council, due to the lack of political institutions.
Libya as a state suffered for 42 years from the lack of a constitution and political institutions. Thus when the regime collapsed in Benghazi, the council tried to regulate life and to face all the problems that resulted from the lack of such institutions.
Libya is not Tunisia or Egypt, which are different cases. After the victory of their revolutions they only need to change sections of the constitution, while we don't even have a constitution; it is the same with ministries and executive power. This phase is a period of transition awaiting the collapse of the regime and the rise of a new Libya. Then we will have to form a constituent assembly that will set the constitution, and after that we will create ministries according to that constitution.
Magharebia: What are the roles of the committees within the NTC?
Deghali: The legal committee, for instance, is in charge of documenting the statutory crimes, in order to press charges before the International Criminal Court later. In fact we work closely with the ICC and we will send to the court, very soon, all the evidence gathered by our committee that gives priority to documenting crimes committed by the regime for the period starting on February 17th. Then the committee will move to the second step of its work and will start documenting the crimes of the regime before that date. In this regard, we collaborate with foreign human rights organisations and institutions who documented Kadhafi's crimes before February 17th.
We also created another committee specialising in cases of prisoners and mercenaries. This committee is chaired by Judge Marwan Torshani and is making massive efforts. After all the work done in Benghazi, the members of the committee moved to Misrata and cities of the western mountains.
Magharebia: What are your plans for creating a Libyan constitution?
El-Deghali: After we liberate the whole country from the regime, we will form a national assembly. I personally hope we will resort to elections although the situation in the country will definitely be a problem. If the assembly can't be elected, we will put a number of skilled and expert people in charge of selecting the members of the assembly.
Magharebia: What about using Libya's former constitution?
El-Deghali: The former constitution was Libya's first and it contained some general rules shared by other constitutions, such as the laws regulating the rights and freedom of individuals. Therefore, we will keep working within the same general framework when writing the future constitution, nonetheless we will try to give Libya a modern shape and therefore the constitution will involve new rules and laws adequate to the new phase and the new state.
Magharebia: What are your thoughts on the blossoming of new political groups?
El-Deghali: Recognising the right of others to have their own opinion is a healthy sign, and diversity is a healthy atmosphere. Thus, we shouldn't just accept two, three, or just one opinion. Everyone has the right to have their own idea or inclination; what really matters is that this stays within the general rules of the state.
So far, no political parties were created; you can only find civil society institutions, which we really praise in opposition to the former regime that was rejecting those organisations using the highly unpopular law 19. We know that Libya is currently in the state of labour but we stay confident that Libyans will be able to get through this. We have trust in the youth and I personally imagine a wonderful Libya led by these young people.
Magharebia: Would you like to add anything?
El-Deghali: I hope that Libyans will be confident that they can go through this phase, which is definitely lasting too long, but Kadhafi bets on time and Libyans should understand that he is procrastinating in order to make the people in the liberated areas lose patience. This is an old lousy trick and Libyans should stay confident.
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