Mahmoud Jibril, head of the
National Forces Alliance, talks during a news conference at his
headquarters in Tripoli TRIPOLI — Libya’s
largest parliamentary coalition boycotted the national
congress for a second day on Monday, protesting at delays in
forming a committee to draft the country’s first constitution, a
spokesman said Monday. The National Forces Alliance (NFA) bloc,
formed last year by liberal war-time leader Mahmoud Jibril
and holding 39 of the 80 seats in parliament, walked out of the
session late on Sunday and did not show up for the meeting on
Monday. “We have withdrawn from the congress meetings because it
has not met its duties in making the constitution a
reality,” bloc spokesman Tawfiq Breik told Reuters. Libya
desperately needs a viable government and system of rule so
that it can focus on reconstruction and on healing the divisions
opened up by the war that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. It has never had
a constitution, being ruled by a bizarre set of laws drawn up by
Gaddafi in his Green Book. The new charter is to be drawn up by 60
members elected by Libyans, but the election is still only a
distant promise rather than a near prospect because of internal
squabbling and administrative delays. The majority of
parliamentarians in Libya’s General National Congress are civilian
professionals and former exiled opposition members with little or
no political experience or knowledge of how to run a government.
Congressional sessions usually last for hours with members making
vague speeches, asking off-topic questions, or arguing personal
drama. Last month, tempers rose over a disagreement and one member
walked across the congress and punched another member. Breik said
that according to congress’s mandate, elections to vote for the
committee to draft the constitution should have already been under
way. ‘Instead now we are still debating in congress if we should
elect the constitutional committee or to appoint them,” he said.
Breik said the NFA bloc was also protesting at a lack of
transparency in how parliamentary sessions set agendas; delays in
proper security for congress members after their building was
attacked by protesters several times last year; and the failure to
adopt procedural rules for the congressional sessions. “We don’t
want to hinder the work of the congress, but if it continues in
this way the congress’s work won’t be advancing anyway,” Breik