Libya Struggles with Security

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Article Summary
While domestic security and state institutions remain an issue, Libya celebrates the passage of one year since its first free and fair democratic elections.

July 7, 2013, marked a full year since fair elections were held for the first time in the ancient and modern history of Libya. On the same day in 2012, fair elections were held for the first time without the intervention of the authorities in favor of a candidate at the expense of another, just as they were free from vote-buying, which many politicians have not hesitated to use in elections in many Arab countries.

On this day last year, Libyans headed to the polls in various districts to elect members of the General National Congress, which took over the reins of power from the National Transitional Council (NTC) that was established by Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

Jalil appointed a member from every local council in the cities that were liberated from the rule of late Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi.

The Justice and Development Party began its secretive political activities more than half a century ago, at the hand of Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood member Ezz al-Din Ibrahim and his companions Mahmoud and Jalal Saada, who sought refuge in Libya in 1949. They also sought protection from Idris Senussi, the king of Cyrenaica back then. The king offered them refuge after they fled Egypt after being accused of the assassination of the then Egyptian Prime Minister Nukrashi Pasha by militants affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which was established by Hassan al-Banna in 1928.

They started working in schools as teachers at that time. They sought to spread the principles of the Muslim Brotherhood in the province of Cyrenaica.

The liberal National Forces Alliance had managed to have many candidates running for the General National Congress, as the alliance’s leader, Mahmoud Jibril, toured many Libyan towns and cities, stressing the importance of elections. He urged citizens to be actively involved in selecting their representatives in the congress, which would draft a new constitution for a new democratic Libya after nearly four decades of tyranny.

Thus, the alliance won the confidence of voters, while Islamists of National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) and the Justice and Development Party ran as independents, as soon as they realized they had little chance to win an overwhelming majority.

It should be noted that the Islamic-oriented NFSL was founded by Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf and his companions in the 1980s, after they defected from Gadhafi’s rule, while Magariaf was an ambassador to India.

Magariaf and his companions continued their opposition against Gadhafi until the liberation of Libya. Following Gadhafi’s ouster, they returned to their homeland and secured three seats in the General National Congress in the July 2011 elections. Magariaf was elected president of the congress, while Ali Zeidan became interim prime minister.

Zeidan continued to fight armed groups, some of which joined the army and the police, which caused confusion in domestic security. This provided justification for foreign companies to postpone their return to Libya, which hampered reconstruction. Meanwhile, Magariaf preferred to return to his exile, in compliance with the controversial law of political isolation. The president of the Supreme Court, Kamal Dahan, told Al-Hayat that the court’s constitutional department will reconsider the appeal against the law after the judicial holiday at the end of August.

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