July 24-August 1st 2017: Libya’s CDA approves constitution draft and moves towards Public Referendum

Aug 2, 2017 | Libyan actors

An overwhelming majority of Libya’s Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) voted to approve the latest draft of the Libyan constitution on 29 July. Although the vote passed with 43 of the 44 present members’ approval, the assembly meeting was not without complications. Armed protestors, presumably opposed to the draft constitution, disrupted the assembly and assaulted several CDA members. The draft constitution is somewhat contentious as it could pave the way for LNA leader, Khalifa Haftar, to run in a future presidential election, with the stipulation that he renounce his dual nationality one year before nomination. On 31 July, the head of the CDA, Nouh Abdul Saied Abdullah, formally presented the constitution draft and directed the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) to proceed with a national referendum on the document to be held within 30 days of its issuance.

Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Fayez al-Serraj has welcomed the constitution draft at the point. Even still, the HNEC requires the House of Representatives (HoR) to pass legislation related to the referendum before it can make such preparations. In theory, the HoR cannot reject the draft constitution as it is for the Libyan people to decide—two thirds of Libyan voters must approve the draft referendum in order for it to be adopted. Nonetheless, HoR members who oppose the current draft could seek to delay the process by questioning the validity of the CDA’s vote.

Under the CDA legislation, two-thirds of all 60 CDA members must approve the draft including at least one representative of each of the two seats reserved for the Tebu, Tuareg and Amazigh ethnic minorities respectively. It is reported that the two Tebu CDA representatives have joined the Amazign, and have rejected the draft because of insufficient rights and protections for Libya’s minority groups.

The approval of the draft constitution bodes well for the ceasefire and promise of cooperative efforts in the Libyan political process made between Serraj and Khalifa Haftar in the Paris on 25 July. Even still, Haftar has publicly stressed that although he and Serraj have a personal understanding, Serraj ‘has no authority in Tripoli’ and still needs to prove himself. Such rhetoric presages that Haftar may continue his anti-islamist military operations in Derna, Sirte or Tripoli.