Libyan rebel: Up to 2 yrs needed for vote

2011-05-26 15:56

Benghazi - The deputy leader of Libya's rebel administration said it could take up to two years to organise elections, backtracking on promises of a six-month transition to democracy and adding to internal dissent already brewing within the movement seeking to topple Muammar Gaddafi.

Criticism of the rebel leadership's National Transitional Council has been growing in its stronghold city of Benghazi, in the mostly rebel-held east of Libya.

Deeper splits within the rebel movement could further hamper its faltering drive to remove Gaddafi, who has been in power for more than 40 years and is continuing to hold on despite Nato airstrikes in support of his opponents.

The announcement on Wednesday of a longer transition period has raised suspicions that some council members are intent on prolonging their power.

The council's vice chairperson, Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, said a news conference that a one- to two-year transition period would be needed after the hoped-for ouster of Gaddafi. In that time, he said, the opposition would form a transitional legislative body tasked with writing a constitution, hold a referendum on the charter, form political parties and then hold elections.

A day earlier, the top US diplomat for the Middle East, Jeffrey Feltman, reminded the council that its "job is to go out of business as soon as possible."

Other members of the council agree and say all should step aside quickly and follow through on promises of a transition to democracy.

"Any person holding an executive position will not be allowed to stand for election - and that is written in stone," Yousif Sherif, the council member in charge of town councils and culture, told The Associated Press.

Also "engraved in stone", he said, is that "the elections should not take more than six months" to organise.

Rowdy protests have been increasing in Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital since the early days of the uprising that started on February 15. Demonstrators are criticizing how the council's members were chosen, its composition and how decisions are reached.

"Is our revolution being hijacked?" has become a common refrain among young Libyans in Benghazi.

"We want our voice to be heard. ... If officials are deaf, we will speak louder. If that doesn't work, we are not afraid to start this [revolution] all over again," said a 29-year-old mathematician, Osama Ali Araibi, to cheers at a recent youth rally.

The response to the dissent will signal how serious the council's leaders are about their goals of creating a transparent and broadly representative government.

  • slg - 2011-05-26 22:16

    I hate it when journalists say immature things like, he backtracked on what he said earlier. He didn't. He just knows more now. It's confrontational, argumentative, stupid and ultimately self-defeating to think that way.

  • jack - 2011-05-27 01:18

    Never trusted this Doghda , he looks shady and speaks out of his A,,.Some say he is not a pure Libyan national I can not verify that My suggestion he shuts up for good

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