INTERNAL AFFAIRS Political Summary Political System Constitution Executive Legislature Judiciary Political Parties Civil Society Historical Background Colonialism to Revolution Internal pressures under international sanctions The reforms of 2000 The anti-immigrant pogroms of 2000 The reforms of 2004Political Summary TOPTYPE OF GOVERNMENTJamahiriya - State of the MassesHEAD OF STATEColonel Muammar Ghadaffi (Leader of the Revolution)HEAD OF GOVERNMENTShukri GhanemRULING PARTYNo party structureOPPOSITIONNo legal political oppositionNEXT ELECTIONSElections not heldPolitical System TOPConstitution TOPFollowing a period of Italian colonialism, Libya became independent from a UK and Frenchadministered UN protectorate on 24 December 1951 as a monarchy. A federal system ofgovernance under the King was ended in 1963. After the King was overthrown by his army in1969, the country became a republic. When a new form of democracy was promulgated in1977, the name of the country was changed to Socialist Peoples Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,becoming the Great Socialist Peoples Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in 1986.The constitutional concept of Jamahiriya (popular democracy expressed through the state ofthe masses) is based upon the Third Universal Theory espoused in Ghadaffis Green Book. Itis a mixture of socialist and Islamic theories. Intended as an alternative to capitalism andcommunism, it calls for a system of direct rule by the people through a series of committees.All Libyans are expected to participate in popular congresses which theoretically control allaspects of Libyan life. Congresses are convened on a local or vocational basis and mandaterepresentatives to regional congresses and to the General Peoples Congress. In practice, realpower rests informally with Ghadaffi and a number of collaborators from the 1969 revolution.
A significant role is played by the Ghadafa, Ghadaffis family tribe, and several of hisrelatives occupy key administrative positions. Official commitment to the Jamahiriya thusobscures the reality of a dictatorship buttressed by kinship and the eradication of opposition.Executive TOPMuammar Ghadaffi has been head of state since 1 September 1969. In March 1979 herelinquished nearly all his government positions and became known only by the title ofLeader of the Revolution and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, leaving him withcontrol over the administration of the defence establishment and security services. He wasappointed Supreme Leader in March 1990. As such, he plays no formal part in the congressstructure but he and his close collaborators are charged with agitation in support of therevolution. Since February 1980, this has been conducted through the RevolutionaryCommittee Movement, which is a paralegal organisation that operates with almost totalimpunity to "safeguard the revolution" and answers directly to Ghadaffi.The de jure head of government, or prime minister, is the Secretary General of the GeneralPeoples Committee, comparable to a cabinet or Council of Ministers, which is established bythe General Peoples Congress and executes policy at national level. However, in realityGhadaffi is responsible for all appointments and the General Peoples Committee merely actsas a rubber stamp to his decisions. More specifically, the real centre of power in Libya doesnot reside in the formal government structures. There are a number of key figures within thesecurity apparatus and the military as well as those who are related to the Leader who possessmore power and influence than any member of the cabinet.Legislature TOPThe General Peoples Congress (Mutammar al-shaab alâmm) consists of indirectly electedmembers from the local Basic Peoples Congresses. No political parties are allowed andsuffrage is universal and compulsory for all over the age of 18. Since 1977 the GeneralPeoples Congress has been the supreme authority, responsible for formulating policy andpassing laws in accordance with the decisions of local and regional congresses.The country is divided into 25 municipalities, over which there is a strong tribal influence. InNovember 1992, Ghadaffi strengthened his personal influence by dividing the country into1,500 Muhallat or communes. Each of these has its own budget and some of the executiveand legislative powers which formerly belonged to the Basic Peoples Congress. Like thecongresses, the Muhallat are supervised by revolutionary committees whose members arechosen by Ghadaffi.Judiciary TOPThe judicial system is a product of Ghadaffis Green Book. Enforcement of the law is part ofthe responsibility of the 1,500 Muhallat and the Revolutionary Committee Movement. Thereare civil and penal courts, while separate religious courts deal with personal status of familymatters according to Islamic law. In 1996 more severe punishments were introduced includingthe death penalty for crimes such as illegal foreign currency dealing, selling alcohol, orspeculating in food, clothing or housing.Aside from the normal court system, a parallel Peoples Court system was also set up to trypolitical offences and crimes against the state, being established under Law no. 5 of 1988.These courts had their own prosecution service that had extensive powers and were heavilyinfluenced by political considerations. Amnesty International called for the abolition of these
courts because they failed to comply with minimum international standards for fair trial.Under this system, defendants could not choose their own lawyers as these were usuallyappointed by the court and hearings generally took place in closed sessions. Furthermore, thePeoples Court system was not accountable to any higher judicial body.The future of the Peoples Courts was called into question in April 2004 when Ghadaffiannounced in a speech to the Supreme Council of Judicial Bodies that they should beabolished and their jurisdiction should be transferred to ordinary criminal courts. The Libyanleader also called for other legal reforms and for a more stringent application of Libyan law.In January 2005, the Peoples Courts were formally abolished under Law no.7 of 2005, but intypical Libyan style the former head of the Peoples Courts, Hasni el-Waheshi el-Sadeq wasappointed to run the newly created Secretariat for Legal Affairs and Human Rights. El-Sadeqis an established Revolutionary Committees man who is unlikely to favour genuine reform inthe field of human rights.In October 2004, Ghadaffi gave a speech to the judiciary committee in which he made itapparent that despite his personal convictions, the death penalty would not be abolished. Healso announced that he had submitted the long awaited new draft penal code to the PeoplesCongresses, but he urged them to take their time and not to rush in making it legislation. InDecember 2005 there was still no indication that this new penal code is any closer to beingenshrined into law.Political Parties TOPThere are no political parties permitted in Ghadaffis state of the masses and thus no rulingpolitical organisation. Opposition political organisation has been ruthlessly suppressed sincethe revolution and membership of any outlawed party is punishable by death.Many opposition groups have been formed abroad, although these are riven by internaldivisions and in-fighting. The main groups include:National Front for the Salvation of Libya: based in New York, also with offices in London,Zurich and Cairo, this organisation has been funded by Saudi Arabia and by Libyan exiles inthe US;The Libyan Islamic Group: el-Gamaa el-Islamiya was established in 1979 and is the Libyanbranch of the international Muslim Brotherhood. It is based mainly in the UK;American-Libyan Freedom Alliance (ALFA), based in the US;Libyan National Group, established: 1976;Libyan Democratic National Movement, est: 1979;Libyan Democratic National Group, est: 1981;Libyan National Movement, est: 1980;Libyan Islamic Movement, est: 1980;Democratic National Libyan Front, est: 1980;National Front for The Salvation of Libya, est: 1981;Libyan National Salvation Army, est: 1981;Libyan National Struggle Movement, est: 1985;Libyan National Salvation Army Organisation, est: 1988;Libyan Movement for Change and Reform, est: 1994;Organisation for Free Libya;Libyan Authority for National Salvation, est: 1986;Libyan Volcano Group, est: 1984;
Libyan Constitutional Union, est: 1981;Freedom Party, re-established 1980;National Libyan Front, est: 1980;Libyan Peoples Struggle Movement;Libyan Democratic Party;Nations Party;Libyan National Union, est: 1983;Libyan Democratic Conference, est: 1992;Libyan Democratic Authority, est: 1993;Fighting Islamic Group, est: 1991;Libyan Baathist Party;Libyan Conservatives Party, est: May 1996.Civil Society TOPWithin Ghadaffis state of the masses there is no understanding of civil society as such and itis impossible to set up any sort of organisation that is not sanctioned by the State. Anyonedaring to do so is at risk of severe mistreatment.Libyas various tribes have significant impact on the political scene, being the only structurethat the state has not been able to co-opt fully, and these remain influential at local levels.Former political figures and intellectuals who might have formed a focus of opposition wereforced into exile by the cultural revolution of 1973. The private business sector, anotherpotential focus of dissent, was destroyed in 1978 when all economic activity was collectivisedand private wealth was restricted. Although a limited amount of private sector activity is nowbeing encouraged as part of the new openness to the West, this is dominated by members ofthe regime or the Revolutionary Committees movement or those linked to the existing powerstructure.As part of presenting a new image to the international community, the regime has begun todevelop an official façade of a civil society. This effort has been spearheaded by Ghadaffisson Saif el-Islam and his Ghadaffi International Charitable Foundation, which acts as anumbrella organisation for a number of associations and groups, such as the Libyan HumanRights Society and the Fighting Drug Addiction Society. The charity has been behind therecent initiative to start a dialogue with the 88 members of the banned Muslim Brotherhoodwho were arrested in 1998 and convicted of belonging to an outlawed organisation. In May2005 the charity indicated that following on from this dialogue, the prisoners were to bereleased. However, the release was delayed at the last moment and no official reason given.Likewise, Ghadaffis daughter Aisha runs the Watasiumi Charity which also claims to be anindependent civil society organisation. There are a number of what purport to be independentgroups and organisations, but in reality these are all connected in some way to the statemachinery.Historical Background TOPDate Event1911 Libyan occupation of Ottoman Tripolitania.1934 Unification of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan as Italian Libya.1942 Italians defeated by allies in Libya.1946 Allied occupation of Libya (UK and France)
formalised under UN mandate.1951 Reunification of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan and independence from UN protectorate (December).1962 Libya joined OPEC (June).1963 The Kingdom of Libya created.1969 Coup brought Colonel Ghadaffi to power.1975 Coup failure led to popular democracy.1977 General Peoples Congress formed.1981 US authorities banned Libyan crude oil imports.1982 German firms pulled out of rocket programme.1985 US bombed Tripoli and Benghazi. Arab-African Union with Morocco failed.1988 CIA accused Libya of making chemical weapons.1992 UN sanctions applied against Libya (April).1993 Army rebellion in Misrata and Bani Walid (October).1995 Clashes with Islamists in Benghazi, Sebha and other towns. Alleged assassination attempt against Ghadaffi in Sirte (September). Expulsion of Arab expatriate workers.1996 Islamist-led anti-Ghadaffi rebellion reported in Benghazi (March). Major counter-insurgency operations launched (July).1997 Military counter-insurgency offensive launched in Jabal el-Akhdar mountains (April- May).1998 Assassination attempt on Ghadaffi motorcade near Dernah reported (June). Low in global oil prices badly damaged the sanctions-hit Libyan economy.1999 Ghadaffi agreed to hand over two Libyan suspects in Lockerbie bombing for trial in the Netherlands, under Scottish law (March). UN sanctions suspended (April).2000 Major restructuring of the government announced (March). Outbreak of violence against immigrants from neighbouring states erupts (September).2001 Liberal economist Shukri Ghanem recalled from OPEC and appointed Minister of Economics and Trade (December).2002 Clashes reported between Sufi and Salafi Muslims in El-Zawiyah, western Libya (July).
2003 Shukri Ghanem appointed as new Secretary of the GPC in a sign that Ghadaffi favoured greater liberalisation of the economy (June) UN repealed sanctions (September). Libya formally admitted and agreed to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programme (December).2004 Major cabinet reshuffle brought in a number of hardliners, frustrating Shukri Ghanems plans for economic reform (March). Amnesty International was allowed to visit Libya to make its first direct assessment of human rights since the 1980s. Ghadaffi urged greater respect for human rights and the abolition of the criticised Peoples Exceptional Court (March-April). Ghadaffi reasserted Libyas commitment to uphold the death penalty (October).2005 The Peoples Court system was officially abolished (January). Ghadaffi announced that 100,000-200,000 Libyans are to be drafted into the security services to counter the threat of terrorism. (March) Saif al-Islam calls for a new phase of national reconciliation, but Libyans and the opposition abroad remain sceptical (August).Colonialism to Revolution TOPItaly only achieved full colonial control over Libya in 1932, long held at bay by the resistanceof the Sanusi Sufi order and fierce opposition from nomadic tribesmen led by Umar el-Mukhtar. Eventually, however, some 100,000 Italians were settled in the fertile regions ofJebel el-Akhdar and the Jaffara plain, in order to further the fascist dream of a new RomanEmpire in North Africa. Mussolini excavated Roman cities, restored irrigation systems andbuilt a triumphal edifice between Tripoli and Benghazi. The grandiose ambitions of Italianfascism nevertheless collapsed with defeat in the Second World War and the British tookcontrol of Cyrenaica and Tripolitania in 1942. A French military administration was installedin the Fezzan, with both coming under UN trusteeship from 1946.Independence was achieved with the confederation of the three trust territories in December1951 as the United Libyan Kingdom under Sayyid Muhammad Idris es-Sanusi. The royalistperiod of rule was a time of rapid change, chiefly because oil exports, which began in 1961,transformed the country from one of the worlds poorest states into a state of considerablewealth. King Idris abolished the federal structure in 1963, establishing a centralised Libyanstate. In the same year, Libya joined OPEC and by 1964 oil exports exceeded 800,000 barrelsper day.Increased wealth brought social dislocation, corruption and growing dissatisfaction among aneducated elite who shared the pro-Western stance of King Idris. Popular discontent washeightened in 1967 when the government declined to make a strong stand over the Arab-
Israeli war and on 1 September 1969 the King was deposed while on a visit to Athens.Political power was seized by a group of young officers whose principal leader, ColonelMuammar Ghadaffi, terminated Libyas Western alliances. Shortly afterwards, the oilcompanies were nationalised and the new regime forced substantial increases in oil prices.Between 1961 and 1971 the price of Libyan oil rose gradually from USD2.23 to USD2.71 abarrel. In the following decade, Ghadaffi forced the price up to USD41.00 whilesimultaneously increasing production. Libyan revenues from oil rocketed from USD1.17billion in 1969 to USD22 billion in 1980.Internal pressures under international sanctions TOPIn April 1992 the UN imposed economic sanctions on Libya. This was done in response toTripolis refusal to hand over the two suspects linked to the bombing of the December 1988Pan Am flight 103 for trial in either the US or Scotland, and for not co-operating withFrances inquiry into the bombing of a UTA flight over Niger in 1989. These sanctions werenot suspended, in large part, until April 1999, after Libya agreed to surrender the two suspectsindicted for the 1988 bombing to trial under Scottish law in a special court in the Netherlands.They were not fully repealed until September 2003.Several attempts to assassinate Ghadaffi were made during the sanctions period, when thecoinciding collapses in international oil prices and foreign investment in Libyan productionbadly damaged the countrys revenues. The most serious attempt to topple Ghadaffi involveda failed coup by army officers in Bani Walid made in October 1993. The army crushed therebels with the help of air support but they are known to have had widespread support in aregion where Ghadaffis own tribe, the Ghadhafa, has strong links. The event was seen as aclear warning to the regime that it could no longer count on the tribal support it had enjoyed -or bought - in the past. Reports emerged of some tribal-related clashes in 1995, and tightersecurity became evident following clashes in Benghazi between Islamic militants and policein the summer. At least 30 people were reported killed and hundreds more arrested across thecountry in September of that year.In early June 1998, opposition groups claimed that several of Ghadaffis bodyguards werekilled or wounded and that the Libyan leader suffered a slight arm wound in an attack bysuspected Muslim militants on the coastal highway in the eastern Dernah region whileGhadaffi was travelling to Egypt for an official visit. Ghadaffi personally denied there was anassassination attempt and visitors who saw him soon after the reported 2 June attack said heshowed no sign of any injuries. By the end of 1998 the Islamist insurgent threat appeared tohave been contained, although sporadic clashes were still occurring.The reforms of 2000 TOPOn 1 March 2000, the General Peoples Congress (GPC), Libyas major legislative andexecutive body, approved extensive reforms of governmental organisation. The sweepingprogramme of restructuring entailed the dissolution of 12 ministries and the transfer of mostof their powers to provincial committees or other bodies. The departments closed included theenergy ministry, although the national oil industry remained under central supervision. Onlythe ministries of foreign affairs, finance, information, justice and tourism continued to operateunder central control. Ghadaffi suggested that even these ministries might also be abolished ata later date. The defence ministry had already been abolished in 1991. While the GeneralPeoples Committee (cabinet) was much reduced, a new Ministry of African Unity wasestablished to promote Libyan regional influence, although this was later folded back into theForeign Affairs Ministry.
Ghadaffi described the reforms as creating "a new country, a new situation and a newadministration" not seen before in the world. He claimed that the new structure was "a systemof the masses" with power delegated to communes and the peoples provincial councils. Afterdismissing most of his ministers Ghadaffi sprang another surprise by urging the GPC toappoint a formal head of state. Under the unique Jamahiriya (state of the masses) politicalsystem devised by Ghadaffi in 1977, Libya has operated without a formal head of state orpresident. However, this announcement did not result in any concrete changes and Ghadaffiremained firmly in de facto command regardless of his opaque constitutional authority.In addition to the restructuring of government, both the premier and foreign minister weredismissed. The new prime minister or secretary general of the General Peoples Committeewas the former housing and public works minister Mubarak el-Shamikh. He replacedMuhammad Ahmad el-Mangoush, who had occupied the post since 1998. Abd el-RahmanShalqam, formerly head of the department of foreign affairs in the GPC, was named asforeign minister. He replaced Omar el-Muntasser, who had been in the post for more than 10years.The anti-immigrant pogroms of 2000 TOPDespite these governmental reforms, evidence of growing internal unrest was provided in lateSeptember 2000 when violent disturbances affected a number of Libyan coastal towns. Morethan 100 migrants from various countries in sub-Saharan Africa were reportedly killed inclashes with Libyan citizens. Immigrants from neighbouring Arab and African countries havebeen lured to oil and gas-rich Libya in search of work. However, the unrestricted and massiveinflux of migrant workers, estimated at around one million, has heightened social andeconomic tensions, especially during the late sanctions period.Those targeted by the violence included black Africans from Chad, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria andSudan. An apparently trivial dispute sparked one of the most serious reported confrontationsinvolving Chadians and Sudanese in the town of Zawiyah west of Tripoli. A number ofclashes were reported in Tripoli, where disturbances of any kind are rare. Following theviolence, security was tightened and some African immigrants were moved to military camps,ostensibly for their own protection.Libyan officials sought to play down the scale of the confrontations but it is clear that theywere extremely serious. The GPC agreed that "immigrant workers whether legal or illegal,should not be subjected to any attack or indignant treatment." It instituted new securitymeasures across the country to limit the employment of African migrants to public institutionsand to regulate their entry and exit at border posts. Ghadaffi described the pogroms as aforeign instigated plot to defeat his grand scheme for an African Union, coming at a pointwhere he was orienting Libyan diplomacy at courting African states in support of this visionand the repeal of international sanctions.Despite having played down the unpopularity of Ghadaffis open door policy to immigrantsfrom sub-Saharan Africa, the regime finally admitted in 2004 that it had a problem withuncontrolled migration. In August 2004, Foreign Minister Shalgam complained that Libyawas being invaded by migrants and admitted that some parts of Tripoli were now out of theregimes control. The authorities tried to tackle the problem mainly by rounding up illegalimmigrants and deporting them en masse. However, in 2004 Libya entered into a series ofbilateral agreements with Italy in order for the Italians to assist it with border patrol.In May 2005 the government began clamping down on illegal foreign workers. The
authorities started carrying out spot checks on businesses and those found to be employingforeigners without the necessary regulations and visas were liable to a fine or to a prison term.While this created considerable confusion, most considered the measure to be a temporaryone.The reforms of 2004 TOPEver keen to maintain a sense of orchestrated chaos, Ghadaffi altered the structure of hisgovernment once again in March 2004, nine months after appointing the Western educatedeconomist Shukri Ghanem to replace Mubarak Abdallah el-Shamikh as General Secretary ofthe GPC. He re-established the Energy Ministry and set up a Ministry for Culture and Mediaand another for Youth and Sports. The Colonel also separated the Justice and Public Securityportfolios, creating two separate ministries, reportedly at the behest of his son, Saif el-Islam,and allegedly to make way for some reforms within the justice sector. However, these reformsdid not materialise in 2004.Ghadaffi was clearly concerned about the potential for alternative power bases to flourish inthe new uncertain atmosphere and simultaneously reinforced his internal security apparatus.At the same time he continued to take an uncompromising stance against the Islamistopposition, with regular round ups and arrests of those suspected of sympathising with bannedopposition groups. The regime had already taken advantage of the aftermath of the events of11 September 2001 in trying to convince the US and EU that Libya had an internationalterrorism problem as a means of breaking its international isolation.