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Libyan NTC publishes first plans for writing new constitution

Plans to elect a constitutional assembly come as the country teeters on the possibly of a war between rival militias.

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil of Libya's National Transitional Council has urged the public not to be drawn into a budding war between rival militias.
Mustafa Abdul-Jalil of Libya's National Transitional Council has urged the public not to be drawn into a budding war between rival militias.
Image: AP

LIBYA’S INTERIM GOVERNMENT has proposed a draft law for electing an assembly to draft a new constitution – a first step to setting up a new government after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

The draft, published on the National Transitional Council’s website, would bar former members of Gaddafi’s regime from running in the election.

It would even ban anyone who got a degree based on academic research on the Green Book — Gaddafi’s rambling political manifesto that laid out his theory of government and society declaring Libya a “republic of the masses”.

Libya is facing serious challenges to build state institutions from scratch after toppling Gaddafi’s 42-year dictatorship. The interim government must set rules for the transition to democracy and forge some sort of national reconciliation among the huge numbers of Libyans who were integral parts of former regime.

One of the most serious and immediate problems facing the interim leaders is disbanding disparate armed groups of former revolutionary fighters, which are divided by the regions where the operate.

The regional militias, which played a major role in bringing Gaddafi down, are in charge of security in their areas in the absence of a strong and unified national military force. Clashes between the groups are frequent.

Fierce gunbattles between the militias of Tripoli and Misrata erupted today in the centre of the capital, leaving at least four fighters dead, military council commander Abdel-Hakim Belhaj said. The groups fought each other with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and anti-aircraft guns.

Colonel Walid Shouaib, a member of Tripoli Military Council, said the clashes were triggered by arrest of a Misrata fighter on New Year’s Eve by Tripoli fighters. He was suspected of robbery and the Misrata fighters were trying to free him.

The Tripoli council is affiliated with the national transitional government.

The head of the interim government, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, said the government must take control of the situation. ”I warn Libyans from entering into a civil war,” he said.

A Misrata military council member, Mohammed al-Gressa, said he too feared a civil war. He said commanders of ex-rebels and the Tripoli military council were meeting.

“I am not optimistic because blood has been spilled,” he told The Associated Press. “I feel this looks like a civil war.”

- Maggie Michael and Rami al-Shaheibi

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Gavan Reilly

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