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article imageLibyan General National Congress extends its mandate 1 year

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By Ken Hanly     Dec 27, 2013 in Politics
Tripoli - The Libyan interim parliament the General National Congress has given itself an entire extra year to monitor the writing of a new constitution and holding new elections.
Mohammad Sammoud a council member said that 102 out of the 120 who were at the session voted for the new transition plan. The deadline now for drafting a new constitution is August followed by elections with a new elected parliament to take power by December 24, 2014.
The old timetable required the current parliament to elect a constituent panel, draft the constitution, held a referendum, and call for elections, all before February. This decision may provoke anger among Libyans who are already fed up with the performance, or lack of it, by the interim government. The security situation is perilous especially in the east of the country.
In a powerful explosion in Bersis, thirty miles from Benghazi, a suicide car bombing at a checkpoint left at least 13 people dead, just one of many violent episodes in the east of late. There are still numerous militias operating in the country, many actually hired by the government to provide security. The various militias are constantly making demands on the government and parliament.
Southern and western Libya lost internet service on December 21 after armed protesters stormed the Tripoli offices of mobile telephone company Libyana and Libya Telecom and Technology. The deputy minister said that the protesters were angry at power cuts, fuel terminal closures, and the "current situation" in the country. On Sunday (December 22) an emergency line was activated but Internet capacity is only at 60 per cent.
The interim parliament often becomes deadlocked. The law governing the 60 member panel to draft the constitution has been delayed. Under militia pressure it did pass a controversial law that excluded all those who held office under Gaddafi from holding any key positions in the new government. This causes problems because some people with skills and experience who had long ago defected from the Gaddafi regime will be banned from important positions. As member of the congress Fatima Al Majbari pointed out there was hardly any alternative to extending the mandate of the Congress since there could be chaos if there is not some interim government after February 7 when the mandate runs out. The GNC was elected in July of 2012 after Gaddafi had ruled for more than forty years.
The constitutional commission is to be made up of 60 representatives from the three main regions of Cyrenaica in the east, Fezzan in the south, and Tripolitania in the west. The eastern Cyrenaica area has already set up an autonomous government.The Constitution will set out the system of government, the rights of minorities and the role of Sharia or Islamic Law in the government.
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