On the day of the Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) elections, Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) acknowledges this key step towards establishing Libya’s permanent constitution.
LFJL congratulates Libya’s High National Election Commission (HNEC) for overseeing, to date, an independent, impartial and transparent electoral process. LFJL acknowledges HNEC’s efforts to facilitate participation and to generate inclusiveness, in particular for women and minority groups.
Despite these efforts, LFJL regrets that the elections have suffered serious obstacles which threaten to undermine the inclusiveness of the constitutional drafting process. Voter registration, despite several extensions, has only resulted in 1,101,541 persons registering to vote. This figure represents just over a third of the number of voters who registered for the election of the General National Council in 2012.
Furthermore, the shortcomings of the CDA election law, as highlighted by LFJL in the past, have not been addressed. Despite representing 49% of the population, women’s participation is likely to be limited to the six reserved seats. Female representation in the constitution-drafting process is likely to be further hampered due to an asymmetrically implemented electoral system. As a result, only a few sub-constituencies will have separate lists for women candidates and many will, therefore, be left with no choice as to which women will represent them in the CDA. While women candidates could theoretically still be elected into the assembly via the general lists, this is unlikely to happen due to the limited number of female candidates on the general lists. The elections for the General National Council in 2012 also demonstrated that women candidates are currently unlikely to win seats through the general ballot. LFJL also expresses its concern at the lack of agreement to resolve the boycott by the Amazigh of the election process.
“The significant drop in voter participation is worrying. This drop, together with the limited participation of women and ethnic minorities in the electoral process, is likely to have a negative impact on the legitimacy of the CDA and, potentially, the constitution which it drafts,” said LFJL Director Elham Saudi.
The CDA will be tasked with designing the permanent constitution that will define the relationship between the state and the people of Libya. It is therefore vital, as we noted recently, that the constitution offers protection and representation for everyone. LFJL wishes to remind those voting and the CDA candidates that the only way to achieve this is through a drafting process that refrains from politics.
“The constitution will be the single most important document in determining the future of the rights of the Libyan people” said Saudi. “In light of the challenges facing the election process, LFJL calls on all those who have registered to vote responsible and voice their opinions at the ballot box. We also remind the candidates that they have a historic duty to represent all Libyans, and protect their rights, whether they be at the drafting table or not,” she added
She added “Only by instilling the constitution and drafting process with the values and aspirations of all those who will be represented by it, will ownership and acceptance of its contents be possible. It is therefore vital that the representative aspirations of the election continue throughout the drafting process.”
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