Conflicts arise among political forces and their independent allies inside the General National Congress (GNC) whenever the GNC attempts to pass a new law, whether in response to an emergency or under popular demands, like political isolation or local administration laws.

Conflicts arise among political forces and their independent allies inside the General National Congress (GNC) whenever the GNC attempts to pass a new law, whether in response to an emergency or under popular demands, like political isolation or local administration laws.

Conflict also erupts over passed laws awaiting implementation. For example, the National Transitional Council (NTC) drafted a law that provided for the direct election of the constitution drafting committee by the people, while certain political forces have presented a motion demanding an amendment of that law to appoint rather than elect that committee.

Local Administration Law

This is exactly what happened with Law No. 59 of 2012 on Local Administration systems where Article 26 states that municipal and governorate councils shall be directly elected through secret ballot and that chiefs of municipalities and governors shall be elected out of these bodies through indirect voting. However, the government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan presented a bill for amendment of that Article, whereby the municipality chief and the governor would be appointed by the prime minister.

Amendment supporters

National Forces Alliance (NFA) and a number of independents affiliated with it initially supported the bill, while the Justice and Construction Party (JCP), National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL), and a number of independents affiliated with them have opposed it by 120 to 80.

The government, supporting political forces, and members of the GNC Local Governance Committee, have presented some arguments in support of the amendment. One argument is that the people are still not mature enough for democracy, and that there are fears that the election system of municipal chiefs and governors might be confused with the popular election system enforced under Gaddafi’s regime.

There are also doubts that the tribes controlling their regions may prevail in the election process, which makes the election process a mere form completely devoid of its substantive objective.

These forces and the government have explained that the municipal chiefs and governors, if elected, will not optimally be subject to the government’s control and supervision because they may refuse to implement orders or instructions issued by the government on the pretext that they have been directly elected by the relevant municipality or governorate.

According to them, this is likely to disrupt the progress of the government’s function and may give rise to political wrangling, which will ultimately waste people’s interests and cause state institutions to look weaker and incapable of directing local administrations as one form of the executive power.

Government’s control

On the other hand, JCP, NFSL have not concealed their fears of the Prime Minister Ali Zeidan’s government control over the municipalities and local administrations. Such control, they believe, would increase tension levels within the governorates and cities due to centralization caused by the government’s monopoly of appointment of governors and municipal chiefs.

Other GNC members have objected to the leak of some names Zeidan’s government plans to appoint as governors, believing that those nominees are involved in financial corruption cases.

Officials at the Ministry of Local Governance also oppose the amendment. They believe that the people’s election of such senior officials would be better in all cases than imposing officials they might not like, and that the people would hold the government accountable for their appointment in case of failure to perform their duties.

Old laws revived

The government says it has adopted a formula similar to that of Law No. 8 of 1964 in connection with local administration, which stipulates that the Minister of Interior would recommend the governor or municipality chief, while their appointment would be made by the prime minister. Thus, the government did not need to devise a new law since this formula had been known under the monarchy prior to Gaddafi’s reign.

Opponents of the law refute the government’s argument, saying that time and circumstances are different and that it would be unfair to compare the 1960s to the current circumstances. Under monarchy, Libya was among the poorest countries in the world, and it was financially incapable to hold local elections at the country level. Besides, Libya did not have educated cadres that could contribute to the electoral process. Therefore, the government had to appoint municipality chiefs and governors. The situation now looks different, whether in terms of availability of resources or cadres, which are capable of participating in the electoral process and convincing their constituencies of their qualifications and educational credentials.

Amendment supporters call for quick activation and consolidation of state institutions. Opponents, on the other hand, argue that election and provision of larger powers and more budgets to the municipalities and governorates for managing their affairs will greatly facilitate people’s day to day living and gradually eliminate centralization.


Despite its opposition to the amendment, NFSL has come up with arguments different from those promoted by JCP. It believes that the exceptional circumstances Libya is experiencing necessitate that position. If the country’s legislative, executive, and judicial institutions were normally functioning with a constitution in place, an appointment system would be more adequate because local administration is part of the duty exercised by the executive authority and the government.

It is striking that all passed or drafted laws are a subject of much wrangling among the liberal forces, particularly NFA, and the Islamic current led by JCP. According to some political analysts, this political attitude suggests a conflict between the two parties within the GNC, and is viewed as an inevitable outcome of the forthcoming overall political game, at least as long as the GNC exists. This disagreement, which started as a backstage conflict, and was later disclosed to the people and flashed on TV screens, could be a cause for more aggravated crises.