Constitutionalism and political order in Libya 2011-2014: Three myths about the past and a new constitution

Carmen Geha, Frederic Volpi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Libya’s 2011 revolution enabled ordinary citizens and an emerging civil society to voice their demands on a variety of key issues including Libya’s new constitution. Libyans faced the challenge of redefining and re-empowering national political institutions through the establishment of a new constitution. This article analyses a series of constitutional grassroots debates that were led by the Forum for Democratic Libya (FDL), thereby unpacking insights not only into the constitutional process itself but also into the underlying expectations regarding a new political order in the country. We argue that the brief period of relative peace and stability in Libya between 2011 and 2013 presents a ‘golden age’ of constitutional activities that created meaningful interface among Libyan citizens after decades of oppression. We argue however that although constitutional debates allowed for citizen engagement in the process of constitutional development it had little bearing on the outcomes of this process. Citizen demands remained unanswered due to deeply entrenched informal political practices causing activists to face the arduous task of trying to influence a formal process of constitutional development. Priority demands expressed by citizens in our research pointed to the need for Libyan political actors to address the creation of a new system of governance, civil liberties and three regional priorities namely immigration and citizenship in Southern Libya, reconciliation and justice in Western Libya, and natural resources in Eastern Libya. The priorities remain unaddressed in Libya and provide insights of priority issues that will require serious efforts in the future of a stable Libya.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-706
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of North African Studies
Volume21
Issue number4
Early online date5 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2016

Keywords

  • Libya
  • constitution
  • Arab uprising
  • civil society
  • revolution
  • dialogue

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