HOR approves constitutional amendment and PC restructuring
On 26 November, the House of Representatives (HoR) passed a constitutional amendment that effectively validates the HoR’s recently passed law for the referendum on the draft constitution. It now reflects article 6 of the Referendum Law, dividing Libya into three voting districts – Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan. Before the amendment, Libya was considered one voting district. Under the referendum law, the draft constitution must receive an approval of 50% +1 in each region and two-thirds national approval. The HoR also approved a new structure for the Presidential Council (PC), comprising a president and two deputies, as well as a separate prime minister as the head of the government.
The constitutional amendment theoretically removes a legal barrier that could have prevented the referendum on the draft constitution from taking place under the terms of the existing legislation. This could pave the way for a referendum on the constitution to be held in the coming months, although the process is still likely to face challenges and will likely be subservient to the new national reconciliation conference planned for next year.
The ability of the PC to be restructured is outlined in the 2015 Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement. It requires both the HoR and the High State Council (HSC) to unanimously agree upon the restructuring and the process by which it is to be achieved – while this has been long and drawn out it is a notable achievement and rare to see both groups cooperate for a shared interest. It means the HoR now recognises the existence of the PC, which it had been hesitant to do previously, albeit only because it wants to change it and replace the incumbents.
The restructuring of the PC is likely to be resisted by the international community and UNSMIL, who are concerned it will have a destabilising effect and would prefer to maintain the status quo to focus on the National Conference as a way forward towards national elections and reunification. However, not acknowledging the HoR and HSC’s landmark decision and circumventing the process would jeopardise the international community’s policy of “Libyan owned” initiatives. Likewise, the international community is likely to resist any immediate push for a referendum on the constitution as this process would likely increase political division in the short term.