Amazigh Supreme Council boycotts Libyan Constitutional Assembly election

Amazigh body vows not to recognize results, says it will establish own Amazigh Parliament · Tubu National Assembly also boycotts election · Libyan elected representatives need to draft a new Constitution in a four-month period

On February 19th, on the eve of the Libyan Constitutional Assembly election (which was held yesterday), the Amazigh Supreme Council announced that it would not recognize the future Libyan Constitution because "we do not recognize those who do not recognize us". This statement was the result of dissatisfaction with the representation that the Amazigh and other non-Arab peoples have been given in the 60 member Constitutional Assembly: only two representatives for the Amazigh, another two for the Tuareg, and another two for the Tubu. Thus, non-Arab peoples should be represented by 6 out of 60 MPs, equally divided between the country's three regions: Tripolitania (west), Fezzan (south) and Cyrenaica (east) . Women have been granted 6 seats. Candidates for the Assembly are 692, of which 73 women, 14 Tubu and 6 Tuareg (no candidate under the "Amazigh" label).

In addition to non recognizing its outcome, the Amazigh Supreme Council has also boycotted the election. The body says it is "disappointed" because the Amazigh people continues to be excluded from Libyan political life, as it was during the 42 years of Gaddafi dictatorship. Similarly, the Amazigh Council announced its decision to establish an Amazigh-only Parliament, to which an election will be called.

The Amazigh were instrumental during the August 2011 offensive against Tripoli, which led to the final collapse of the Gaddafi regime. Now, Amazigh representatives demand more constitutional guarantees for the recognition of their collective identity, freedom to learn and use their language and powers to directly manage the economy and public order in areas inhabited by them (the distribution of peoples of Libya can be seen on the map above). They now fear that the Constituent Assembly will forget those demands.

Their boycott means that, instead of the planned 60 members, the Constitutional Assembly will only have 58. And the figure could be even reduced to 56 if the Tubu also maintain their provisional boycott: at the very last moment, the Tubu National Assembly recommended their ethnic kin not to vote, but the 14 Tubu candidates were not removed. Tubu representatives also wished to raise their protest against their possible marginalization in the new Libyan Constitution. They are also asking for full recognition of their identity as a distinct people, with their own rights.

A troubled scenario after the election

Despite the tense climate that marked yesterday's election day -with at least one person dead-, holding the poll implies that the four-month period set to draft the Constitution has begun. International observers have underlined the low turnout (officially at 45%). Many voters had decided not to vote as a protest towards a political class that has been unable to solve, three years after of the fall of Gaddafi, issues as fundamental as those related to public and private safety, and exploitation of natural resources for the benefit of the whole country. In fact, the current Libyan Parliament -elected in 2012 with a commitment to bring peace to the country, to sustain economic revival and to start institutional reforms- has proved to be weak and confused.

However, the constitutional process is on. Next week the final results of the election will be known. After that, elected representatives will need to discuss what kind of Libyan state will be built: a democratic, secular and liberal one, or maybe an Islamist one. They will also need to decide if Libya should be a centralised of a federal country, and moreover, if the rights of its peoples will be respected or or only tolerated to some extent.

Further information:

Follow up on NationaliaIn Libyan state building almost everything is yet to be done, but not everything is possible