Saturday, April 12, 2014

Libya updates April 12 , 2014 - signs of some stability and increased security are good signs ! Amazigh Supreme Council continues boycott of Constitutional Assembly ....... Libya looks to past for new constitution

Trial of Gaddafi officials to begin in Libya

Two of Gaddafi's sons are among 38 former regime figures charged with a litany of crimes related to 2011 uprising.

 Last updated: 13 Apr 2014 13:09
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Libyan state TV aired controversial footage of Saadi Gaddafi asking the country for forgiveness [Reuters]
Tripoli, Libya - The trial for which Libyans have waited three years opens in Tripoli on Monday, when two of Muammar Gaddafi's sons and three dozen former officials go to court over a litany of alleged war crimes committed during the 2011 uprising that toppled the former Libyan president.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, his younger brother, Saadi, and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi are among key figures of the former regime facing charges ranging from murder to plundering state coffers. Also among the 38 defendants are former Prime Ministers al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi and Bouzid Dorda.
For prosecutors, it is a chance to finally call to account key members of the Gaddafi regime for alleged crimes committed during the uprising and the decades of dictatorship that preceded it.
Security is expected to be tight at Tripoli's Hadba prison, which has been turned into a fortress protected by barbed wire, armoured cars and machine-gun nests. Prosecutors say more than 200 witnesses have been interviewed and more than 40,000 pages of evidence assembled, along with video and audio evidence that allegedly shows the defendants giving instructions to security units to open fire on protesters.

RELATED: Gaddafi's son Saif appears in Libyan court

For many Libyans, the Gaddafi brothers and Senussi symbolise the different faces of the former regime.
Arrested in November 2011, Saif, 41, has been detained by militia leaders in the mountain town of Zintan, about 150km southwest of the capital. The militia persistently refused to hand him over to the central authorities, so he is expected to participate in the trial via video link.
Saif was considered the man most likely to replace his father, who was captured and killed at the end of the 2011 uprising during fighting in his hometown of Sirte. Saif earned a playboy reputation abroad, throwing lavish parties and being entertained by the British royal family at Buckingham Palace. He was controversially awarded a doctorate by the London School of Economics, after the charity he controlled gave the school a £1.5m ($2.5m) grant. Saif was captured by Zintan militias as he fled though the southern desert in November 2011, missing two fingers, allegedly the result of wounds from a NATO air strike.
He [Saif] has been held incommunicado [in] detention for almost two-and-a-half years. His trial will take place by video link from Zintan, which is a fundamental violation of the right to a fair trial.
- John Jones, ICC-appointed lawyer
Saadi, 40, a former footballer, was equally flamboyant, achieving prominence by being signed by three Italian Serie A football clubs (Perugia, Udinese and Sampdoria), though he made just two substitute appearances in a three-year career.
Senussi, meanwhile, was viewed as Gaddafi's chief enforcer, running his intelligence network for several decades. He has already been convicted in absentia by a Paris court for the bombing of a French airliner that crashed in Niger in 1989.

RELATED: Gaddafi spy chief to face trial in Libya

The trial of the Gaddafi-era officials is already steeped in controversy. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has charged both Saif and Senussi with war crimes and crimes against humanity, but while judges have agreed Senussi can be tried in Tripoli, they have yet to consent to the same for Saif. The ICC was mandated by the United Nations Security Council in 2011 to investigate war crimes in Libya, and it is unclear how judges may react if Saif's trial concludes without their agreement.
"He [Saif] has been held incommunicado [in] detention for almost two-and-a-half years," John Jones, Saif's ICC-appointed lawyer, told Al Jazeera from London. Jones will not be in court on Monday. "His trial will take place by video link from Zintan, which is a fundamental violation of the right to a fair trial."
In February, Human Rights Watch accused Libya of failing to provide proper legal representation for the accused, but Libyan officials say all suspects will have access to lawyers. Last month, however, Libyan state television aired a contentious jailhouse video in which Saadi, apparently without a lawyer present, confessed to his role in "destabilising" the country and asked for forgiveness.
Libyan officials maintain due process will be observed, with prosecution spokesperson Seddick al-Sour vowing to conduct a fair and open trial. Government spokesperson Ahmed Lamin promised the same, telling a press conference last week: "I can assure you that the trial will be according to the correct legal procedures."
Still, there are fears over how ongoing violence in Libya could impact the trial, with frequent anti-government protests fuelled by a lack of prosperity in the oil-rich country. Four international airlines have suspended Tripoli-bound flights indefinitely after rockets hit the runway last month. Despite the deteriorating security situation, many residents will be closely following the trial.
"This trial should have happened quicker but we're pleased it's happening [now]. These guys need to be judged for the things they did," Tripoli student Hassan Morajea told Al Jazeera. "A lot of negative things are happening in Libya right now, but having this trial is a good development for the country."

More protests and closures .....

Protestors blockade Zawia oil terminal

By Callum Paton.
Tripoli, 12 April 2014:
Protestors demonstrating against the government and the General National Congress (GNC) have blockaded Zawia oil terminal preventing workers from unloading tankers waiting in the port.
A government statement issued yesterday called on the people of Zawia to put an end to the blockade and “defend the country’s strategic facilities”. It said that while authorities respected citizens’ right to voice their grievances it would not allow Libyan towns to be held hostage while vessels were waiting to unload petrol for domestic use.
A number of Tripoli petrol stations closed today with long queues at those which remained opened, sparking fears of an impending fuel shortage.
Spokesman for the National Oil Corporation (NOC) Mohammed Al-Harrari told the Libya Herald that the terminal was closed today but declined to comment further on the matter.
The blockade comes days after the Petroleum Facilities’ Guard moved in to take control of the eastern oil terminal of Hariga and less than a week after an agreement between the government and Cyrenaica federalists led by Ibrahim Jadhran to relinquish Hariga along with Zueitina after an eight-month blockade.
Harrari said he expected the NOC to lift its declaration of force majeure on Zueitina, as it has done already with Hariga, in the coming days, once it had been given the green-light by the government.

Zawai road closed again

Tripoli, 12 April 2014:
Less than a day after the main coast road running through Zawia was reopened it was again closed by local militiamen.
According to the Libyan news agency LANA, it was closed by gunmen saying they were taking action as part of the campaign of civil obedience opposed to the General National Congress continuing to function.
Yesterday, the local Shoura Council removed sand barriers set up in the town in protest against the General National Congress and the Muslim Brotherhood, and reopened the road.
However, schools in Zawia have remained  largely closed even though it is reported that the civil disobedience campaign is not popular in the town.

Some stability and security   ?

Hariga port “under Petroleum Facilities Guards control”

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 11 April 2014:
The official Petroleum Facilities’ Guard (PFG) has said it is in control of Hariga oil terminal in Tobruk and that the eastern port is now open and ready for exports.
Spokesperson for the PFG Waleed Al-Tahourni told the Libya Herald that his brigade had moved into the port and that it was now “safe and ready for work”.
Hariga is one of two eastern oil terminals to be reopened under a deal struck on Sunday between the government and Cyrenaica federalists led by Ibrahim Jadhran. He and his Cyrenaica Political Bureau began their blockade on Zueitina, Hariga and Sidra in July last year, wreaking havoc with national oil production.
Bashir Mohammed Shalouf, the General Manager for the Sarir and Messla oil fields which produces oil for export from Hariga said he expected the fields to return to the full production capacity of 340,000 barrels per day of oil over the coming week. He said that time would allow for any technical problems to be resolved.

Central Libya Shield Forces pull-out from Sirte airbase

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 11 April 2014:
Misrata-based Central Libya Shield forces withdrew from Al-Qurdabiya airbase in Sirte on Wednesday following a request  from  mediators and elders from the town.
The withdrawal s follows an earlier one by Central Libya Shield from three oilfields south east of Sirte last month and this week’s agreement between the government and federalists led by Ibrahim Jadhran to reopen oil export terminals at Zueitina and Hariga in Tobruk.
Spokesperson for Central Libya Shield Abubaker Al-Nuairi told the Libya Herald that the forces had agreed to leave their positions as the result of an agreement brokered by Sirte officials and elders. He added that a few units had remained behind at Sirte’s civilian airport but were also preparing to go.
Sirte was the scene of armed clashes between militias under the control of federalist leader Ibrahim Jadhran and Central Libya Shield in March when Jadhran’s Cyrenaica Defence Force entered the town before being pushed back to the Red Valley to the east losing several truckloads of arms to the Misratans in the process.
A stronghold for Qaddafi supporters, Sirte has seen some of the country’s worst violence since the revolution. A Benghazi brigade, the Zawia Martyrs Brigade, which is attached to the Saiqa force, was assigned to ensure stability in Sirte in early 2012 but has since become a target for both Qaddafi loyalists and other militants.
Last month five of the brigade’s members were killed in Sirte after a heat-seeking missile hit their vehicle. It is not known who fired it.
Nuiari said that as  Central Libya Shield were preparing to leave there had been some clashes in the town but that the Misratan-led force was not involved.

Misratan-led forces take control of military barracks and airport in Sebha

By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 10 April 2014:
The Misratan-led Third Force has taken control of Sebha’s military barracks and airport, which had been seized by the Alwad Suleiman after being vacated by Zintani forces.  The force has also taken over another other strategic positions held by the tribe or by Tebu militiamen .
Spokesman for the Misratan-led force Ala Al-Huwaik told the Libya Herald that the move had been possible due a reconciliation agreement signed only by rival Tebu and Awlad Suleiman factions but all groups which had been affected by the the clashes in the southern town that broke out in January.
“The agreement was brokered though the efforts of Labour Minister Mohammed Sualim, the head of the government office in Sebha, Mustafa Kunono, the Minister for Awkaf and Islamic Affairs and Tarek Shekaan, the Ministry of Defence’s Sebha head, as well as a number of Sebha elders,” he said.
Misratan forces entered Sebha in late January after tribal and ethic tensions boiled over, destabilising the surrounding region and allowing Qaddafi supporters to gain a foothold at nearby Taminhent airbase.
Huwaik said that the airport had first been taken by Zintani forces in late January when they arrived in Sebha alongside the Third Force to put an end to the worst of the town’s fighting. It was, however, regained by Awlad Suleiman forces when the Zintanis withdrew. Huwaik said there were now hopes that flights out of Sebha would resume shortly.
“We know that this problem cannot be solved unless residents offer their full cooperation,” he said. “This agreement obligates all combatants to cease fire,” he added.


Amazigh Supreme Council continues boycott of 

Constitutional Assembly

By Taziz Hasairi.
Tripoli, 12 April 2014:
The Amazigh Supreme Council (ASC) has said it will not cooperate with plans to elect the 13 remaining seats  for the Constitutional Assembly, left vacant after the February elections because of boycotts, violence or threats of violence.
The General National Congress last month voted to instruct the Higher National Elections Commission (HNEC) to organise fresh polls in the affected constituencies and
HNEC announced on Wednesday that it had restarted registration for candidates for the 13 seats, including the two seats reserved for Amazighs who had boycotted the entire electoral process in February. It said potential candidates should register in either its Jadu or Ghariyan centres for the seats representing Zuwara and the Jebel Akhdar.
However the ASC has said it has no intention of accepting the decision. The head of the council, Ibrahim Makhlouf, told the Libya Herald that these kinds of “half measures” would not be tolerated and that the Amazigh had made clear their demands to HNEC and the General National Congress (GNC) many times.
ASC member Yousef Hasairi said the decision to reopen registration at this point was not only a waste of time but also disrespectful. He said it was clear authorities were attempting to obfuscate the problem by not opening a registration office in Zuwara, the main Amazigh town and centre of one of the two seats reserved for the Amazigh
The ASC has said it will continue to boycott the constitutional assembly until the authorities accept a consensus principle. They stipulate that at least two-thirds of the entire 60-member assembly including all six Amazigh, Tebu and Tuareg members would have to agree to the proposals in the draft constitution on the name of the state (e.g. State of Libya, Republic of Libya or whatever), its identity, flag, national anthem and language(s) if they were to participate.
While the GNC voted last month to accept the consensus principle, the vote was widely dismissed by leading minority organisations because it was not properly defined. The deadlock over the issue means there will be further delays in the work of the Constitutional Assembly which cannot start its work of drafting the constitution until all 60 members take their seats.

Libya looks to past for new constitution

The security situation in Libya remains chaotic - not ideal conditions to draw up a new constitution. But a 63-year-old constitution, framed under the old monarchy, could help the federalists.
Libyen Tripolis Blockade Ministerien 30.04.2013
Libya currently lacks a lot of things that make up a functioning state - stability, security, an effective government, a head of state and a constitution. This last issue, at least, could be resolved soon. The newly-elected constitutional council is set to begin its work on Monday (14.04.2014) and it is supposed to deliver a draft for a new basic order for the country within 60 days. But the talks are unlikely to be without conflict because several interest groups are making demands and various militias are keen on maintaining their own power and influence.
The council itself has not had an auspicious start either. The Libyans have twice been forced to elect its 60 members. But following threats from individual militias and several bombings, many polling stations remained shut. On top of that, some ethnic minorities - notably Berbers, Tuaregs and Tubus - called for a boycott because they felt their two seats each did not adequately represent them. Only 14 percent of those eligible voted.
Libyen Wahl Verfassungsgebende Versammlung
Few turned out to elect the constitutional council
But it wasn't only the low turnout that raised doubts about whether the constitutional assembly reflected the interests of everyone in the country. Each of Libya's three historical regions - Tripolitania in the West, Cyrenaica in the East, and Fezzan in the South - was granted 20 seats on the council. But many more people live in Tripolitania than in the other two regions put together, which means that certain votes have more value, explains Libya expert Wolfgang Pusztai. At the same time, almost all of the country's oil wealth is in Cyrenaica, where federalists are insisting on their autonomy. All of these factors will have an effect on the council's work, predicts Pusztai, who worked as Austrian defense attaché in Tripoli from 2007 to 2012.
Gadhafi sons on trial
At least the council no longer has to take into account the interests of the cliques that dominated the reign of Moammar Gadhafi. Monday also sees the beginning of the trial of Gadhafi's sons, Saif al-Islam and Saadi, and other leading representatives of the regime that was toppled in 2011. They are accused, among other things, of murder, kidnapping, and embezzlement.
In the coming weeks, the framers of the constitution will first have to decide what kind of state Libya is to become. "Should it be a republic, and if so, what kind?" Pusztai wonders. "An Islamic republic? A federal republic?" Another major question is what influence Sharia law is to have on the legal system.
If, at some point, there is to be a draft constitution at all, it will also have to find the necessary majorities in the transitional parliament and in a referendum. But at the moment in Libya, militias wield more power than political or ethnic majorities. Armed groups wanting to prevent a law being enacted have already brought heavy weapons to bear several times. This is one of the biggest problems the country faces, according to Mohammad Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou of the Geneva Center for Security Policy, because state structures have been largely dismantled.
"What we have instead is a 'militia-fication' of politics," Mohamedou told DW. The planned constitution must stand against this as one element in the reconstruction of the state. "A constitution is not just a text," he said - it is a guarantee that there will be a certain way that politics will be carried out. "It is a living document," concluded Mohamedou.
Libyen Feier Jahrestag 3 Jahre ohne Gaddafi in Tripoli
Nostalgia is a powerful force in post-Gadhafi Libya
Reintroducing the monarchy?
But what could such a document look like if it is to represent the interests of as many Libyans as possible? There have been several calls for a return to large parts of the political system of the Libyan monarchy in the 50s and 60s. Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdelasis has even proposed re-establishing the monarchy itself. Most people do not want to go that far, but at the moment the old kingdom looks a lot more attractive that the Gadhafi era or the current state of near-anarchy.
"There is a nostalgia," says Mohamedou, describing the mood in Libya, something well-illustrated by the return to the old monarchy flag. Moreover, references to the old Libyan nation, when federalism was deeply rooted, are now commonplace.
Then again, the monarchy did have two different constitutions. The one from 1951 was very federalist, explains Pusztai, and it gave the three regions major powers: "Even the capital was rotated between Tripoli and Bengazi."
But the major oil companies did not want to have to negotiate with myriad local representatives as well as the central government, which led to the pressure to establish the new constitution in 1963. But today's federalists, who occupied important oil loading terminals in the past few months, have no interest in negotiating on the basis of this - they much prefer the 1951 model.
By meeting in Al-Beidha, Pusztai said, the constitutional council has chosen a highly symbolic location: This was the first town to be liberated from Gadhafi's power in 2011. And, Pusztai recalls, "it was where the first, and for the time, very modern, constitution was written in 1951."