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Libya drops election quota for women

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 20 Jan 2012 15:35 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Oliver Holmes

TRIPOLI, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Libya will scrap a proposal for 10 percent of seats in a new national assembly to be set aside for women, a Western diplomat who is engaged in discussions with the Libyan election committee told Reuters on Friday.

The new, 200-member assembly is set to be elected in June to draw up a constitution after the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi last year.

Last month, the interim ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) posted a draft election law on its website and asked people to comment on it as part of a plan to engage the population in the democratic process. The draft called for 20 seats to be set aside for women.

"After the draft election law was posted on the NTC website for feedback from the public, 80 per cent of the 14,000 emails received (by the NTC) were against the quota, including women's rights groups," the diplomat said.

Some Libyan women's rights groups still support the quota, and say it should be made higher - perhaps more than 50 percent to reflect a majority female population in the country.

Among other changes from the original draft, members of parliament will be elected from separate constituencies, rather than competing countrywide.

The United Nations had urged Libya to hold elections in constituencies, which ensures all regions are represented and makes it easier to limit fraud than in a countrywide tally where problematic results in one area can taint the entire outcome.

A rule barring holders of multiple nationalities from voting will also be scrapped, and the new rules relax a ban on members of the NTC running for seats. The ban was put in place to emphasise a change in power from the internationally recognised but self-appointed NTC to the new elected body.

"Political figures and NTC members are still forbidden from running in the elections to teach people about the transfer of power, but the NTC thought that banning members of the local NTC councils would be unnecessary," the diplomat said.

"Local NTC council members will be allowed to run."

Libyans with ties to Gaddafi will still be banned from running in elections, as will academics who wrote about Gaddafi's "Green Book", containing his musings on politics, economics and everyday life.

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