Saturday, April 26th, Members of the GNC Mr. Ala Mgarief of Benghazi, and Mr. Musa Faraj of Jdabya, as well as Ms. Saida Berween of the Ministry of Local councils, dialogued with civil society organizations and private sector actors on the topic of “How to implement measures for transparency and accountability in governance for the next House of Representatives and Local Councils” at the 4th Networker Event of the Civil Society Incubator Center.
The following are observations and outcomes from the dialogue:
- The General National Congress began work with very limited capacity, thus measures for transparency and accountability were not immediately made a priority.
- The public had lost trust in the GNC within weeks of their mandate, indicating that trust was very difficult to establish/maintain given the political environment and history.
- The GNC did not immediately recognize the huge threat of lost trust and credibility that was apparent as soon as citizens called for the election, rather than selection of the Constitutional Assembly within weeks of the GNC’s election.
- Though the lack of trust in the GNC was evident early on, there were no measures taken to earn the trust of the public, including measures for accountability, transparency, and better means of representation. The reason for in-action on such measures was likely due to the GNC’s failure to recognize the role of trust in democratic representation, and the function and benefits of accountability and transparency measures in governance
- Until today, citizens do not know if their elected representatives go into work, how their representatives vote on various laws and decisions, outcomes of discussions within the assembly, outcomes of discussions within committee meetings, who committee members are, how an item is placed on the agenda of the GNC, how the national budget was allocated for 2014, how it was spent in 2011, 2012, 2013, how citizens can reach their local representatives, how citizens can communicate their hopes and priorities for the State through their parliamentary representatives.
- The lack of transparency and accountability has lead to the existence of a non-democratic process implemented by an elected body, leading citizens to become less responsive to elections, and the proposition of democracy. More dangerously, they have become less responsive to the rule- of-law at large.
- Without the above measures and precedence in transparency, accountability and representation at the highest levels of government:
- There remains little to no opportunity to implement such measures in the public and privatesector, allowing social, political and economic corruption to spread indefinitely.
- There remains little to no opportunity to build credibility and trust in the state to the extent required to attract loyalty of security forces, and activate disarmament initiatives, allowing the state to enjoy a legitimate monopoly on power.
- There remains no opportunity to enjoy stability to the extent required to attract local and foreign investment.
- Because representative bodies typically respond to a strong demand from the “street” or citizens, the implementation of transparency and accountability measures requires a strong demand from the Libyan public and civil society. Civil society has very limited capacity at the moment.
- The GNC members in attendance noted that few groups approach the GNC with the intent or capacity to summon such a demand, and no strong demand has yet been made from “the street”. Because this demand is not a priority coming from organized civil society groups and the public, the matter of transparency and accountability has yet to be made a priority within the governing body of the GNC.
- Unless Libyan civil society and the public make very clear demands for measures toward transparency and accountability in the next House of Representatives and local councils, such governing bodies are likely to suffer from the very same perceptions of corruption, apathy and partisanship which plagued the GNC, and has left the nation in relative anarchy.
- If the Libyan public desires a better governance process (and not just new people in parliament) it must be prepared to collectively demand greater means of accountability and transparency in the next House of Representatives, and local councils, and see such measures through to implementation as a matter of priority.
Mr. Ala Mgarief, Mr. Musa Faraj, and Ms. Saida Berween have agreed to engage with any person or group in civil society willing to advocate for such measures.
Special thanks to event volunteers, Mr. Ehab Masmos, Ahmed Albayas, Othman Anwar, Abd Alrauf Alsherief, Anas Alsaraj, and Amir Abu Sen, without whom the events are not possible. Lastly, we’d like to thank USAID for their generous and responsive support of the Networker.