Libya’s outgoing rulers on Thursday unveiled a law stipulating that members of a constituent authority must be elected separately rather than appointed by the next national assembly as planned.
The amendment to the constitution-making process marked a major departure from the ruling National Transitional Council’s roadmap to democracy issued after the fall of Moamer Kadhafi’s regime last year.
It comes only two days ahead of national polls to elect a General National Congress which had an original mission of drafting a constitution to govern future elections.
The NTC decided that the “the election of a constituent committee tasked with drafting a national charter will be carried out through free and direct suffrage” instead of being appointed by the members of the incoming congress.
The decision strips the General National Congress of what was considered one of its core functions. It still maintains its legislative powers and the perogative of appointing a government.
Representation on the 60-member constituent authority will be evenly split between the regions of Tripolitana in the west, Cyrenaica in the east and Fezzan in the south, following the model of the 1951 consititution.
Libya was divided into three administrative regions until King Idriss al-Senussi abolished the federal system in 1963.
The amendment came in “response to demands made by a significant part of the population,” according to NTC spokesman Saleh Darhoub.
An NTC delegate said that its primary purpose was to appease a pro-federalism faction in the east of the country which has threatened to boycott Saturday’s vote.
The movement wants to see a “fair distribution” of seats in the 200-member congress. The authorities, based on demographic considerations, allocated 100 seats to the west, 60 to the east, and 40 to the south.