Libya’s Largest Parliamentary Bloc Boycotts Assembly
Libya’s largest parliamentary bloc, the liberal National Forces Alliance, began a boycott of the national assembly this week. The NFA walked out of meetings on Sunday and did not return for Monday’s session. NFA spokesman Tawfiq Breik said, ”we have withdrawn from the congress meetings because it has not met its duties in making the constitution a reality.” The group wants a committee elected by voters to draft the constitution, but other factions want the committee to be chosen by the assembly. The NFA also cited failure to adopt rules governing parliamentary proceedings, unilateral decisions by President Mohamed Magarief, and lack of security for MPs as reasons for its withdrawal.
Karim Mezran and Eric Knecht of the Atlantic Council describe the growing divisions in Libyan politics and the long-term impact these divisions may have on the country’s transition. They write that “the country’s increasingly embittered political environment has serious consequences for Libya moving forward.” These consequences could include inhibited progress toward a new constitution and resulting delays in broader efforts to rebuild the Libyan state. They also predict that the NFA boycott could create an opportunity for Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated factions to gain control of the assembly but that Sheikh Ali Salabi, a popular figure in favor of national reconciliation, is likely to moderate the influence of the Islamists. Mezran and Knecht also argue that the security and governance challenges facing Libya “require the country’s political factions to recognize the urgency in moving forward on the transition’s larger goals, rather than remaining mired in political squabbles capable of tearing the nascent state apart.”