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Sun, 10 Jan



Empowering Local Governance through True Power Sharing

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Empowering Local Governance through True Power Sharing
Empowering Local Governance through True Power Sharing


10 Jan 2021, 18:00 – 21:00 EET


About the Event

Recording of the event available here.


During the transitional phase, several UN Special Envoys to Libya have attempted to mediate the formation of a government of national unity, in accordance with the power-sharing agreement that could bring together the two opposing standing powers and include the majority of political forces and militias. However, the result has only been an increase in the division.

These attempts to formulate a "political solution" to the conflict taking place in Libya today envisage achieving solutions based on an inflated centralisation and unable to simultaneously extend its authority, what does not fit the demographic, economic, social and cultural reality in the country.

The equations of quotas and power-sharing among the political parties were not absent from the forum and rounds of political dialogue. There is much talk about the triangle, far from a constitutional framework or an administrative system. Whereas, what the negotiating parties and all the active forces should be concerned with is the competition in formulating and presenting sober future visions, and not competing in seizing narrow gains and concluding a formal political agreement pending greater future gains.

Any equation that does not guarantee true power-sharing and good management of resources, that goes beyond the scope of political forces and includes all components of the Libyan nation, will weaken Libya rather than strengthen it. 

Moreover, the power-sharing equation among the narrow political elite has failed time and time again.

Indeed, this equation has increased the country's basic vulnerabilities which include 1) deep social and political divisions, 2) weak national institutions, and 3) long-term grievances that have pervaded many cities.

While establishing a capable political authority at the national level is important - as is the case for finalising the constitution and strengthening national identity and key national institutions - it is unlikely that this centralised approach will result in the establishment of an authority that is capable and has the ingredients that would allow it to play the role of arbitrator between forces and factions or face rigorously persistent divisions, security challenges, and criminality.

The issue of local, regional and national identities and entities is of great importance in the Libyan context, in light of the limited number of people in Libya as opposed to the large geographical area, and in light of its pivotal geographical location that connects a number of regions.

The Libyan nation embodies the concept of “unity of diversity”. The single Libyan population fabric is a mixture of groups represented by diverse cultures with different combinations. Libyans have multiple and sophisticated identities and are open to their surroundings and the world. These social characteristics refuse to be a means of achieving unity, imposing solutions by force or through compromises based on inflated centralization with regard to power and control of resources. Regarding the first possibility, i.e. the possibility of imposing solutions by force, it is evident that the feeling of prejudice will push local and regional / regional forces and groups to reject the endeavor of the group or groups that will try to impose their word by coercion or through domination. In a centralised approach, it is certain that it will be difficult as for the other possibility, i.e. the conclusion of settlements based on reaching a consensus in the literal sense of the word among all the forces due to the plurality prevailing in the country.

This is the case, because the Libyan Expertise Forum for Peace and Development believes that the correct path to be followed is real participation in power and good management of resources through a grassroots approach and the establishment of a mixed administrative system, between decentralisation and “multi-polar” centralisation,  that brings together the various mechanisms that contribute to settling disputes in amicable ways in a fair manner and strengthening the rule of law.

This approach that we propose will build on the efforts of local government units that have considerable strength, and will produce a balance between the various local forces and groups, which will allow for the preservation of harmony and the strengthening of cooperation between them (and avoiding the domination of any group or group of groups over the rest). Combined with an emphasis on growth and prosperity supported by an open and diversified economic approach, this combination can build on a country's strengths and reduce divisions.

Distributing power and preventing its concentration in the hands of an authority trying to rely on an inflated centralisation will greatly reduce the zero-sum conflicts in which the parties seek to seize all the components of power. It would also contribute to the eradication of rentierism, which would allow positive economic, social and political transformations to take place. This would contribute to strengthening the existing and effective local government units as the basic structures of the state, rather than limiting reform efforts to central ministries.

There is no doubt that it will remain important to strengthen the main national institutions (such as the National Oil Corporation, the Central Bank of Libya, and the Libyan Investment Agency). At the societal level, and a grassroots approach that runs from the base of the pyramid to its top, and this includes, for example, the creation of national intermediary institutions that can coordinate the efforts of local units in the context of seeking to achieve common goals (such as healthcare).

Session details:

Date: 10 January 2021 

Time 18:00 - 21:00 Tripoli time.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Fadel Al-Amin - Director General of the National Council for Economic and Social Development
  • Mohammed Khaled Al-Ghwail - Consultant in strategic planning
  • Hani Shneib - Professor of Cardio-thoracic Surgery, Chairman of the National Council for American-Libyan Relations

The session will be moderated by Zahra' Langhi - Chair of the Libyan Women's Platform for Peace  and Coordinator of the Libyan Expertise Forum for Peace and Development.

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