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Libya

 
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Libya

The Basic People's Congress

The blurred lines of responsibility dividing the ASU (as the organization charged with mobilizing the masses) and the people's committees (charged with being the primary administrative instrument of the revolution) led to minimal cooperation and even conflict between the two systems. Political participation by the population as a whole was lacking, and administration was inefficient. Qadhafi decided that if coordination and cooperation between the ASU and the people's committees were to be increased, and if organized functional groups (especially labor) were to be brought further into an integrated participatory system, still another innovation was required. The fourth stage in modifying subnational government and administration involved a reorganization of the ASU, announced by Qadhafi on April 28, 1975.

Membership in the reorganized ASU was open to all Libyans (except convicted criminals and the mentally ill) as well as to all Arabs living outside Libya. At the lowest geographic level, the submunicipal zone, the population formed the BPC, all citizens within the jurisdiction of a given BPC automatically becoming members of it. By 1987 over 2,000 BPCs had been created. The BPC was headed by an executive or leadership committee of ten members, directed by a secretary (sometimes referred to as a chairman). The leadership committee's function was strictly administrative-- announcing congress meetings, preparing minutes, and setting the agenda. Qadhafi noted that the leadership committees would be selected rather than elected, the results of elections not having been entirely satisfactory in the past. Press reports later announced, however, that ASU elections at all levels were held between November 9 and December 3, 1975 (the term "election" possibly having been used in the broadest sense to include some less direct selection process). Each municipal district was composed of several BPCs. The Tripoli ASU municipal district, for example, comprised forty-four BPCs in 1975. Members of the leadership committees of all BPCs within a given municipal district formed the Municipal Popular Congress. A leadership committee of twenty members was selected by that congress.

Leadership committee chairmen from the BPCs and the Municipal Popular Congress were delegates to the highest ASU organ, the National Congress, which met in 1972 and 1974. Also represented at the municipal congresses and the National Congress were delegates from professional groups and organized labor, a modification in the old form of ASU functional representation based on workplaces. The April 1975 ASU reorganization announcement stipulated that the national representative organ was to be called the National General Congress. A November 13 decree included formal provisions for the new congress, the first session of which was held in January 1976. By the time of its September 1976 session, the national representative body had become the GPC, which had transcended the old ASU National Congress in formal power and purpose.

With the 1975 reorganization of the ASU, the roles of the people's committees and the ASU's BPCs were demarcated, at least theoretically. People's committees were responsible for political matters, and they debated both domestic and foreign policies as presented by the national leadership in the form of a standard agenda. In terms of authority, the political organ was superior to the administrative, the ASU having been assigned supervisory and guidance functions over the people's committees. The GPC, embodying the will of the lower municipal and basic popular congresses, was the highest legislative and executive authority in the country.

Data as of 1987

 

Libya - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Government and Politics


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