Libya GNC to Elect Constitutional Commission
Libya’s General National Congress voted Wednesday to directly elect the 60 members to the Constitutional Commission. A previous National Transitional Council declaration stipulated that the members would be appointed, but disagreements over the makeup of the body’s membership has stirred controversy since congressional elections last July. “It is obvious people wanted elections,” Hassan El Amin, an independent lawmaker from the western city of Misrata, said. “There’s a lack of confidence in the National Congress.” Tarek Mitri, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and chief of the UN Support Mission in Libya, said, “This decision is an important milestone, paving the way for continued progress toward a constitution that reflects the needs, priorities, and aspirations of the Libyan people.” No date for elections was announced, but a congressional committee to establish the High National Electoral Commission, the body charged with setting up and overseeing the Constitutional Commission’s elections, will be established in the next three days.
In Syria, opposition leader Mouaz al Khatib gave the government of Bashar al Assad until Sunday to release all female detainees or his offer for direct talks would be rescinded. ”If the women are not released by Sunday I consider that the regime wants to break the initiative,” al Khatib said in a BBC interview Wednesday. It is unclear how many female detainees Assad’s government is holding, but al Khatib has conditioned dialogue with the regime on the release of an estimated 160,000 political prisoners. The government has not responded to al Khatib’s offer.