Press Relase: NCUSLR Proposes Four-Pronged Approach for Elections in Libya

​WASHINGTON, DC, June 27, 2018 - After convening a meeting of officials and Libya experts on Capitol Hill on June 22nd, listening to a range of informed views and reflecting on the country's history and potential, the National Council on US-Libya Relations announces the following positions on elections in Libya: 1. The Council recognizes that properly-organized elections are essential to ending Libya's divisions, collapse of governance, and security and economic crisis. 2. The Council believes it is critical to maintain the target date of December 10th, agreed at the International Conference convened by President Macron in Paris last month, as a way of generating urgency, internally and internationally. 3. At the same time, the Council: recognizes the inordinate risks in holding elections without a comprehensive plan to address the glaring and formidable obstacles; and recommends the following approach to the four principal election challenges: (a) (Constitution) Revive the 1963 Constitution as a feasible, organic basis for elections: While the Constitutional Drafting Assembly has produced a draft Constitution, the product and process are too flawed – and disagreements too wide – to be resolved by the Paris target date of September. A costly Constitutional referendum might fail. A growing chorus in Libya offers a better alternative: adapt the original Libyan constitution of 1951 (as amended in 1963) – the Constitution that legally is still in effect -- as an interim basis for governance and elections. A National Convention of tribal elders and mayors – leaders who enjoy legitimacy -- should be called under UN auspices to adapt the 1963 Constitution to present day needs. The chief task is to establish the three-member Sovereign Council (originally designed to supplant the king in the event of his incapacity), and to endorse elections for this executive body and the national parliament. By placing executive powers temporarily in the hands of the three-member Sovereign Council, this approach sidesteps the contentious question of who would become Libya's President. In time, a new Constitution would be put to referendum, followed by elections for parliament and President. (b) (Electoral Laws) HNEC and UN draft; National Convention ratifies electoral laws: It is unlikely that Libya's fractious bodies will produce an agreed electoral law by September, as agreed in Paris. Given the urgency, the High National Election Commission, in consultation with the United Nations, should produce a draft law for elections, utilizing the 1951/1963 Constitution, as the basis. The National Conven