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World > Africa > Libya > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Libya - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)


GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Libya?s political system is in theory based on the political philosophy in Qadhafi?s Green Book, which combines socialist and Islamic theories and rejects parliamentary democracy and political parties. In reality, Qadhafi exercises near total control over major government decisions. For the first seven years following the revolution, Colonel Qadhafi and 12 fellow army officers, the Revolutionary Command Council, began a complete overhaul of Libya?s political system, society and economy. In 1973, he announced the start of a 'cultural revolution' in schools, businesses, industries, and public institutions to oversee administration of those organizations in the public interest. On March 2, 1977, Qadhafi convened a General People's Congress (GPC) to proclaim the establishment of 'people's power,' change the country's name to the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, and to vest, theoretically, primary authority in the GPC.

The GPC is the legislative forum that interacts with the General People's Committee, whose members are secretaries of Libyan ministries. It serves as the intermediary between the masses and the leadership and is composed of the secretariats of some 600 local 'basic popular congresses.' The GPC secretariat and the cabinet secretaries are appointed by the GPC secretary general and confirmed by the annual GPC congress. These cabinet secretaries are responsible for the routine operation of their ministries, but Qadhafi exercises real authority directly or through manipulation of the peoples and revolutionary committees.

Qadhafi remained the de facto chief of state and secretary general of the GPC until 1980, when he gave up his office. Although he holds no formal office, Qadhafi exercises power with the assistance of a small group of trusted advisers, who include relatives from his home base in the Sirte region, which lies between the traditional commercial and political power centers in Benghazi and Tripoli.

In the 1980s, competition grew between the official Libyan Government and military hierarchies and the revolutionary committees. An abortive coup attempt in May 1984, apparently mounted by Libyan exiles with internal support, led to a short-lived reign of terror in which thousands were imprisoned and interrogated. An unknown number were executed. Qadhafi used the revolutionary committees to search out alleged internal opponents following the coup attempt, thereby accelerating the rise of more radical elements inside the Libyan power hierarchy.

In 1988, faced with rising public dissatisfaction with shortages in consumer goods and setbacks in Libya's war with Chad, Qadhafi began to curb the power of the revolutionary committees and to institute some domestic reforms. The regime released many political prisoners and eased restrictions on foreign travel by Libyans. Private businesses were again permitted to operate.

In the late 1980s, Qadhafi began to pursue an anti-Islamic fundamentalist policy domestically, viewing fundamentalism as a potential rallying point for opponents of the regime. Qadhafi's security forces launched a pre-emptive strike at alleged coup plotters in the military and among the Warfallah tribe in October 1993. Widespread arrests and government reshufflings followed, accompanied by public 'confessions' from regime opponents and allegations of torture and executions. The military, once Qadhafi?s strongest supporters, became a potential threat in the 1990s. In 1993, following a failed coup attempt that implicated senior military officers, Qadhafi began to purge the military periodically, eliminating potential rivals and inserting his own loyal followers in their place.

The Libyan court system consists of three levels: the courts of first instance; the courts of appeals; and the Supreme Court, which is the final appellate level. The GPC appoints justices to the Supreme Court. Special 'revolutionary courts' and military courts operate outside the court system to try political offenses and crimes against the state. 'People?s courts,' another example of extrajudicial authority, were abolished in January 2005. Libya?s justice system is nominally based on Sharia law.

Principal Government Officials
De facto Head of State--Mu'ammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi ('the Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution')
Secretary General of the General People?s Committee (Prime Minister)--Dr. Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmudi
Secretary of the General People?s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation (Foreign Minister)--Abd al-Rahman Shalgham
Charge d?Affaires, Libyan Embassy, Washington, DC--Ali Aujali

The Libyan Embassy is located at 2600 Virginia Avenue NW, Suite 705, Washington DC 20037 (tel. 202-944-9601, fax 202-944-9060).


Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
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Government
Economy
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Transportation
Military
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Current Time
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Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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