Political Environment of Libya
Libya is currently experiencing political instability and has gone through several governmental changes over the last few years. This country was under the rule of Muammar Gaddafi from 1969 to 2011, when civil war erupted. The opposing forces sought to overthrow the Gaddafi government and established the National Transitional Council as the new legal representative of Libya. On October 23, 2011, the National Transitional Council called an end to the war, just 3 days after Gaddafi was killed.
The National Transitional Council remained in power for around 10 months after the end of the war and organized an election in July of 2012. This election established the General National Congress, which took power on August 8, 2012. Once initiated, this legislative body was required to transition the country to a democratic political framework within 18 months. It was not, however, able to accomplish this feat and on June 25, 2014, the Council of Deputies was elected as the new legislative body.
The country has once again been involved in an ongoing civil war since 2014. The war is largely between supporters of the Council of Deputies and the New General National Congress, each discussed below.
Council of Deputies
The Council of Deputies, also known as the House of Representatives or Tobruk government, took office on August 4, 2014. The 2014 election is widely accepted as democratic, although there was only an 18% voter turnout due to violence in the country. On November 6, 2014, the Supreme Court of Libya ruled that the elections had actually been corrupt and that the the Council of Deputies should be disbanded. According to some accounts, the Supreme Court was threatened with violence before its decision was made. Because of this allegation, the Council of Deputies refused to step down.
New General National Congress
Shortly after the 2014 elections, the losing parties joined together to form the New General National Congress. It is primarily made up of members of the following political groups: the Muslim Brotherhood, the Loyalty to Martyrs Bloc, and the Justice and Construction party. Upon losing, this alliance formed two military forces: the Libya Shield Force and the Libya Revolutionaries Operation Room. These forces came together to take over the capital, Tripoli. This move forced the Council of Deputies to seek refuge in Tobruk, located in the eastern region of Libya.
Libyan Political Agreement
With neither legislative body recognizing the validity of the other, political progress has been at a standstill. On December 17, 2015, members of both the Council of Deputies and the New General National Congress came together to sign a political agreement with the help of the United Nations. This agreement established the Presidency Council (9 members) and the Government of National Accord (17 members). The goal was to hold elections in 2 years’ time. The Council of Deputies (House of Representatives) was renamed the State Council and its members were nominated by the New General National Congress. In April of 2016, the State Council took control of the government, however, just 6 months later, New General Congress loyalists (known as the National Salvation Government) took over Tripoli by force. Today, fighting among various political interests continues.