One of Libya’s most powerful militia leaders has registered his newly-founded political party for June’s election for a transitional national assembly. Former jihadist Abdel Hakim Belhadj (right) reportedly enjoys considerable resources and a strong organizational network.
“We have candidates in every Libyan city,” Belhadj said.
“He will announce his political party,” said Anis Al-Sharif, head of Belhadj’s office.
“He also feels that the revolutionaries have done their job to oust the Gaddafi regime and now it’s time to rebuild Libya, to move to a political state,” he said:
His party is unlikely to be able to register in time for Libya’s first ever election on June 19, for a transitional assembly which will draft a constitution. But with Islamists gaining in influence since Gaddafi’s overthrow, Belhadj’s party will be well placed to compete in fresh elections to be scheduled by the new assembly.
If his party, Al Watan (Homeland), is allowed to compete and performs as well as expected in the June 19 poll, it will bring a strong a strong Islamist presence to the 200-seat assembly which will draft the country’s constitution.
Libya is at a crossroads, writes David Tafuri a former State Department Rule of Law Coordinator, and legal counsel to Libya’s new government of Libya.
“The countries that spent billions on the air campaign to destroy Gaddafi’s military from above should do more to support democracy on the ground,” he writes on The Hill blog.
“Little in terms of resources or time is being spent by NATO countries. At a minimum they could send advisors to help create new democratic institutions, implement transparency mechanisms, provide greater support for electoral systems and train and equip security forces.”
Libyans are expressing frustration as democracy has not translated into a better life, says Tafuri, a partner at Patton Boggs:
Libya’s transitional government does not feel empowered to make significant change and is led by people new to governing. Gaddafi’s 42-year iron-fisted rule left behind few institutions democracies need to be successful [as a recent National Endowment for Democracy report observes]. Libya needs an independent judiciary, civil society organizations, anti-corruption watchdogs, a free press, new laws to protect individual rights and a transparent program for infrastructure development. These efforts can be supported by the U.S. and NATO, but mostly funded by the Libyan government, as it has significant revenues.
Libya is facing real issues which countries face during transition. How do you transform government so that it is responsive to the people? How do you use resources more transparently to improve daily life? What is the role of federalism? How do you empower local governments?
The U.S. spent more than $1 Billion on the air campaign to save the Libyan people from massacre by Gaddafi’s forces. Let’s spend a fraction of that to make sure the post-Gaddafi transition is successful. The cost of failing to do so is clear. After we helped the Afghans defeat Soviet rule in the 80′s, we ignored their transition. Look at the result there.