Who will enjoy the full rights of citizenship — including serving in public office — in the new Libya? There may soon be an answer to this question. On Tuesday, parliamentarians began debating a draft of a bill known as the Political Isolation Law. The draft bill lists 36 different categories of Libyans considered “directly responsible” for “corrupting political, economic, social, and administrative life” in Libya during the 42 years of Moammar Gadhafi’s autocracy. The bill, seen by Al-Monitor, also specifies the government positions that banned individuals would be prevented from holding.
Lawmakers argue the law is a necessary and overdue step that the majority of Libyans support. While the desire to prevent those who aided Gadhafi’s abusive and corrupt regime from holding positions of power in Libya today is hard to fault, the draft law is unpopular among Libyan rights activists. Some say that aside from being impractical if not impossible to enforce, the bill will hinder progress toward initiating national reconciliation efforts and promoting the rule of law.
The categories in the bill identify Libyans who served in an extremely diverse array of government functions during the Gadhafi era. The first category singles out “soldiers and civilians” who participated in Gadhafi’s coup in 1969 for exclusion. Subsequent paragraphs exclude editors of newspapers and magazines published during the Gadhafi era; researchers at The World Center for the Study and Research of the Green Book, a Gadhafi mouthpiece; and those who served in the Libyan diplomatic service, among many other citizens.
If the General National Congress (GNC) passes the law in its current form, the individuals currently serving in the highest positions of government during Libya’s ongoing political transition could well be removed. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was a career diplomat before he defected in the 1980s and became a vocal regime critic. GNC President Mohammed Magariaf (pictured) was the Libyan ambassador to India before defecting in 1980 and later playing a leading role in Libyan opposition movements in exile.