Unknown facts about Libya

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index in March 2005 painted a picture of a “strikingly varied” democratic spectrum in the Middle East. The EIU reported that Saudi Arabia, Libya, and Syria were among the most repressive in the region, followed by Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

Libya however, contrary to known facts, has a certain democratic system that fits the Libya. The state, the government, and political parties are officially abrogated in the country.

The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (in short Libya) is a North African country that borders the Mediterranean Sea, and is situated between Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Niger, Algeria and Tunisia.

Libyan Leader

Until 1912 Libya had been a part of the Turkish Osman Empire, and from 1912 to 1941 it was an Italian colony. In 1951 Libya became an independent country, ruled by a king.

In 1969 a revolution took place, and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi came into power and created a certain democratic system. According to a report by the Centre for Administrative Innovation in the Euro-Mediterranean Region, the Libyan political system (Jamahiriya) is unique. The ideological bases for the state are supplied by the Third Universal Theory, a mixture of socialist and Islamic principles written by Gaddafi himself and presented in the Green Book.

In 1992, Gaddafi introduced significant changes in the country’s political and administrative system, with the country’s subdivision into municipalities (mahallat) that enjoy legislative, financial, and administrative autonomy, but remained under the control of revolutionary councils appointed by Gaddafi. The decentralization process made further progress in 1998 with the creation of 26 governorates and in 2000 with the adoption of administrative devolution as one of the priorities of the political agenda.

The Jamahiriya (state of the masses) is based on the direct representation of the people, to be exercised through the Basic Popular Congresses. The General People’s Congress is the Libyan equivalent of a legislature: it operates as a link between the people and the executive branch.

The country has started to export oil in 1961. Almost all the money earned during the process was left abroad, since the black gold was extracted predominantly by the western monopolies.

After the revolution, the oil extraction went under the control of the Libyan National Oil Company (NOC). Gaddafi at once nationalized the oil industry and lost the favors of some western countries.

According to the Daily Nation, under a plan the veteran leader outlined on the 39th anniversary of his rise to power last year, Gaddafi would hand out the country’s $30 billion earnings from oil directly to the masses.

To effect this plan, Colonel Gaddafi has decided to dismantle all ministries except Foreign Affairs, Defense, Internal Security and Justice.

According to the Times, to end the corruption that has sapped the vast oil wealth, bundles of cash should be delivered to the poor, three quarters of the ministries should cease to exist and the workers should run hospitals and schools.

Colonel Gaddafi himself warned last year that he foresaw chaos in the initial stages of the oil plan “until society learns to take care of its own affairs rather than rely on corrupt administrations.’’ Gaddafi says that failed ministries cost Libya $37 billion a year.

Under the plan, each of Libya’s five million citizens would get his or her own share of the more than $30 billion earned from oil sales per year.

He said: ‘‘Libyans should be ready to receive a share of oil revenues starting from the beginning of next year. You always accuse the Popular Committees (ministries) of corruption and poor management. These complaints will never end so everyone should have their share of oil revenues in their pocket.’’

“The administration has failed and the state economy has failed. Enough is enough. The solution is, we Libyans take directly the oil money and decide what to do with the money,” he added.

According to the Daily Nation, Gaddafi however faced opposition from top Libyan officials, among them the Central Bank Governor, Mr Farhat Omer Ben Gdara, and Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, which saw the plan as risky – his plan could not go into effect on January 1, 2009 as initially planned.

Prior to his latest proposal, Gaddafi had created an Oil Investment Authority with capital worth more than $40 billion. The firm manages government investment in agriculture, real estate, infrastructure and shares and bonds.

Libya’s oil wealth, or the amount of the precious liquid under its sands, is estimated at 40 billion barrels. This is the largest amount of oil any country has in Africa. Libya also has massive gas reserves.

* Anna Varfolomeeva is an international reporter at M4 Media

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