GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Form: Jamahiriya (newly coined Arabic word, roughly translated
as "state of the masses," "people's power," or "people's authority").
Nearest English equivalent is "republic." In late 1987, de facto
head of state and government and commander in chief of armed forces
was Colonel Muammar al Qadhafi, who led 1969 Revolution against
Sanusi monarchy. Application of his innovative and revolutionary
Arab-socialist philosophy to Libyan nation has resulted in fundamental
changes in political representation, property ownership, legal
system, and commercial transactions.
Executive and Legislature: General People's Congress (GPC), both
an executive and legislative body that convenes several times
annually, primary formal instrument of government; membership
of more than 1,000 delegates drawn from subnational-level people's
committees, people's congresses, and revolutionary committees.
Leadership of GPC vested in General Secretariat headed by secretary
general, official chief of state. Cabinet functions performed
by national-level General People's Committee. Subnational Governmental
Divisions: After Governorates abolished in 1975, Libya divided
into between seven and ten military districts (number varies with
frequent reorganizations). Each military district divided into
several municipalities, subdivided into villages or urban wards.
Legal System: Since 1969 Revolution, sharia (Islamic law) has
replaced other jurisprudence. Regular court system adjudicates
personal, criminal, civil, and commercial law. People's Courts,
Revolutionary Courts, and Military Courts handle political transgressions
and threats against state.
Political Parties: Political parties banned; mass organization
accomplished primarily through Arab Socialist Union, which includes
geographically and functionally based membership.
Foreign Relations: Libya under Qadhafi a staunch proponent of
pan-Arab unity, both in theory and in practice. Libyan regional
policy predicated on intractable opposition to Israel and support
of Palestinian cause. In 1980s, Qadhafi made bid for worldwide
recognition and Third World leadership by espousing normative
philosophy known as Third Universal Theory, which rejects both
communist and capitalist models of government and calls instead
for nonalignment, "people's power," and "new economic order" based
on more equitable division of wealth between developed and underdeveloped
countries. In accordance with this ideology, Libya has pursued
activist and aggressive foreign policy, which includes alleged
support and sponsorship of numerous terrorist and guerrilla movements
throughout world. Member of United Nations (UN) and most of its
specialized agencies, League of Arab States (Arab League), Organization
of Arab Unity (OAU), Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC), and Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries
Data as of 1987