The Local Governance Case in Libya

April 03, 2017

The Libya Case Report – February 2017


Over the course of February, many municipalities and local councils in Libya carried out several activities and events, which remain limited due to the shortage of resources and unstable security and political situations. Despite these circumstances, some councils tried to raise the quality level of services offered to citizens. The performance of municipal councils in Libya during the month of February is addressed as follow:

The Performance of Municipal Councils and Subsidiary Authorities in the Field of Services

Municipal councils made several efforts - within the limits of available resources - to reduce local problems of shortage in fuel supplies, electricity, water, transportation, health care, education and financial aid to needy families. It should be noted that several municipalities are suffering from these problems, especially in the southern region. For this reason, urgent and comprehensive solutions are needed, which seems to be difficult when looking at the political and financial available resources.

With regard to the fuel sector, the shortage of gas cylinders problem continues to persist in many municipalities due to the ongoing conflicts and smuggling of cylinders to sell them in the black market. Municipalities are still unable to solve these problems as their efforts are mostly limited to holding meetings to discuss the crisis. For instance, the local council of "Bani Walid" organized a meeting and discussed problems and mechanisms to reduce causes and mitigate effects.[1]

Electricity sector: Given the fuel crisis, many municipalities, especially in the south, have a problem supplying electricity. Despite that, some municipalities are trying to find a solution to this crisis. In this context, the municipality of "Sabha" held a meeting, during which, attendees discussed proposals for an urgent mechanism to provide mobile power generators. Discussions included also procedures related to the completion of "Ubari" gas plant as well as the implementation of a solar power plant and petroleum refinery project in the southern region[2]. In addition, the General Electricity Company (GECOL) announced that the problem related to the electric power transmission from production plants in northern "Benghazi" to the rest of the eastern region is solved[3]. The General Electricity Company is also maintaining the line of "Al-Gwarsha- Mrawa" that has a capacity of 220 KV in order to connect it to "Zwetina" plant which will greatly improve the eastern region's network, especially in the areas of "Jabal al-Akhḍar" that extends from "Al-Marj".[4]

The situation was not any better in the field of medical services as many municipalities are suffering from the deteriorating health care services. In fact, several hospitals are facing difficulties due to the lack of financial allocations and recurrent power cuts which threaten of halting the provision of services to patients to the extent that urged some hospitals to use solar energy as an alternative to electricity[5]. In the same sense, there are attempts by municipal councils to alleviate these problems. For instance, the opening of the Center of  Martyr "Mohammed Nasuf" for oral and dental surgery in the city of "Al-Kufra". [6] Moreover, the anesthesia medical staff in the hospital of "Zliten" were honoured to further develop the services in hospitals. Anti-Leishmania disease campaigns continued to be carried out by the control of parasite-pathogenic rodents, as happened in the municipality of "Zliten". The municipal guard also continued to seize expired foodstuffs. From its part, the municipality of "Souq al Jumʿa" announced the opening of three dental laboratories at the health complex, "Arada", "Al-Hani", and "Al-Horiya"[7].

Transport and Communications Sector: transport and communications sector is still suffering the lack of resources and the security situation in the country which caused the closure of several roads and airports. Some municipalities are trying to overcome these problems: The municipal council in "Ghadames" reopened "Ghadames" airport after three years of closure[8]. From his part, "Ahmad Larebi", the mayor of "Benghazi" municipality met with the Chairman of the Libyan airlines company "Fadhil Al-Kasah" to discuss the airline situation and the company's preparation in case of the opening of "Benina" international airport.[9]

The municipal council in "Sabha" discussed, with the Chamber of Commerce, the establishment of a land port and a municipal free zone to activate cargo vehicles that have been used for illegal immigration trade. The projects discussion aims at combating the phenomenon of smuggling and also to create job opportunities that contain youth from working through improper ways[10].

Assistance to needy persons continued to be modest due to the lack of resources along with the increased numbers of needy persons. Some municipal councils try to reduce this problem. In fact, the crisis committee in "Sirte" offered two aid convoys from the charity organization to the displaced persons from "Sirte" who are living in "Bani Walid" and its suburbs and in the municipalities of greater "Tripoli"[11].

In an attempt to alleviate the crisis of traffic congestion and congestion in cities, the municipality of "Misrata" initiated a mural project in the city centre entitled "Ishraqa"[12].

The situation in academics, university and human development fields is the same as other sectors. It should be noted that the Commission of Human Development in "Tobruk" municipal council reviewed the municipal plan for the current year 2017. It also proposed the establishment of a human resources department at "Tobruk" University a Human Resources Development Fund. The committee presented several proposals most notably putting more focus on the municipality employees and raising their capacity through conducting internal and external training sessions based on each one's needs. [13] From its part, the municipal council of "Zliten" provided financial advancements to complete classes in two schools in the city[14].

Some municipalities oversaw the launch of afforestation campaigns in several areas of the Green Mountain[15], and the launch of some projects for environmental development such as "Zliten our municipality" project, which includes sessions on strategic planning. Other municipalities are asking governments to hand them over the garbage recycling factory to help solve the garbage congestion crisis[16]; as happened in the municipality of "Tobruk". On the subject of commercial control, "Benghazi" municipal guard gave the city's business owners a week to obtain the necessary licenses for commercial activities.[17] Municipal guard in "Misrata" seized a shipment of juice and tomato paste at "Bawabat-al-Sadada".[18] Patrols affiliated to municipal guards of "Benghazi" seized big quantities of expired motor oil in some shops selling and changing it engine oils[19].

The Security Challenge and the Municipal Councils Performance

The security situation remains the most significant challenge facing the Libyan State in general and the work and performance of municipal councils and local communities. This security challenge has engendered most services problems such as electricity, water, fuel and others. It should be noted that this challenge has reached the extent of kidnapping the mayor of "Sirte" municipality "Mokhtar Al-Madani" on Sunday, February 12, 2017[20]. Moreover, the Mayor of the municipality of "Qayqab" "Ali Yahya Ejribaa" was shot and wounded in his leg[21]. Besides that, the municipal council in "Sabratha" was a target of an armed attack resulting in suspending work in the council[22].

The role of municipal councils in security operation was limited to their participation in forums and attendance of meetings. In fact, mayors of municipalities took part in the first meeting of municipal councils held in "Tripoli" along with other officials. The forum was aimed at securing the capital and fostering security and stability through supporting and activating the Security Directorate[23]. Emphasis was put on the need to activate the performance of joint security rooms[24] through taking the necessary and required measures that aim to strengthen the rule of law and prestige of the State and its institutions. The project "Creating Security and Social Stability Hotbeds" came under the agreement of Ministries of Local Governance and Interior of the National Accord Government with the European Union to support municipalities and strengthen their capacity in order to develop a plan of action to improve service delivery in the fields of security and justice.[25] To emphasize this aspect, the municipality of "Gharyan" was chosen as a model for the implementation of this potential project, which is supposed to cover many cities and municipalities across Libya. Furthermore, some councils held meetings with foreign actors for further cooperation, support and exchange of expertise. In this context, the Mayor of "Benghazi" municipality "Ahmad Laribi" met with the French businessman "Guilin Broga Gannon" and the Egyptian parliament member and President of security companies, "Nasereddin Mhanni" to discuss the security situation in "Benghazi" and provide support and expertise.[26]

General Abdelrazak Al-Nadhuri", Chief of Staff of armed forces affiliated to the Interim Government, assigned Major "Muftah Omar Al-Gmati" a Mayor of the municipality of "Tazerbu". "Al-Nadhuri" gave "Al-Gmati" all the municipal council's powers prescribed by law[27] to enable municipalities to impose order and security. In this sense, the municipal council of "Abu Salim" played a prominent role in reaching an initial agreement to cease fire in the area of "Abu Salim" following the armed clashes which caused losses and damage. [28]

The Role of Government Authorities in Supporting Municipal Councils

The role of Governments towards municipalities and communities remains modest as it has been limited to the issuance of directives, holding meetings, and support mechanisms which are not able to encounter the numerous problems facing municipalities. This role has been focused on efforts made to implement the Presidential Council's decision aiming to provide a food basket to citizens based on national identification numbers. Governments are also working on implementing a transaction system which registers all Libyans and assigns identification numbers to associations in order to reduce the smuggling of goods through fake associations, especially that this registration will be through an electronic system only[29]. The Minister of Local Governance of the National Accord Government "Bidad Gansu" directed heads of the ministry's affiliated authorities not to travel outside the country without prior authorization[30]. On another aspect, meetings were held and brought together central and local officials such as the meeting of the head of the Government of National Accord "Fayez Sarraj" with municipal officials of "Bani Walid". During the meeting, "Sarraj" pledged to take all urgent measures and prompt solutions to fix the problems facing "Bani Walid" city and to address all shortcomings as soon as possible[31].

A member of the Presidential Council of Government of National Accord, "Ahmed Maiteeq" stressed that micro infrastructure projects in municipalities will be completed after liquidating the budget. He added that 154 health facilities will receive financial aids to solve their problems. Moreover, 360 million dinars are allocated to provide 11 basic commodities during the two upcoming months.[32] Deputy Prime Minister for Services Affairs "Abdelsalam Al-Badri" decided to suspend the work of the local council in "Derna" and assign a steering council instead[33]

The Evolution of the Regulatory Conditions of Municipal Councils

Although the idea of establishing a municipal administration in Libya dates back to the middle of the last century under various forms, it lacks the strong and effective regulatory structure that ensures a prompt and efficient solution to address local problems. Member of the Presidential Council and Minister of Specialist Municipal Councils "Mohamed Amari Zayed" discussed with mayors of the Central region ("Sirte" — "Tarhuna" — "Al-Khoms" — "Qasr al-Akhyar") and the southern region municipalities the activation of Supreme Council for local Administration. The event received a wide media coverage given that it is a development in the area of local administration in Libya that transfers specialties to municipalities and establishes an appropriate mechanism for the collection of local revenues[34]. The project of building administrative headquarters in the city of "Zliten"[35] was approved. It aims to face the acute shortage of administrative headquarters. Because of its geographical remoteness from citizens, the Social Security Fund in the municipality of "Kufra" was separated from the branch of "Wahat" to be directly affiliated with the General Administration of the Fund. [36]On another aspect, the recent designation decisions issued by the Mayor of “Tobruk” municipality “Naji Mazak”, which include about 28600 designated, was incorporated in the 2017 budget.[37]

The Role of Municipal Councils in Reducing the Phenomenon of Illegal Immigration

Municipal councils stand idly by the phenomenon of illegal immigration, which has led to an increase in human trafficking and a significant impact on the country's security, social and economic aspects, besides the long-term demographic change. The Municipal Council in "Misrata" issued a statement in which it expressed its surprise to what it described as "local and international silence towards the irregular migration and what it has resulted in of harm and encroachment of human lives"[38].

Municipalities’ mayors are concerned that the agreement concluded between "Tripoli" and "Rome" to fund immigration detention centers in Libya would result in transferring the crisis Europe is facing to Libya. In fact, municipalities are in an unenviable position. "Hamed Khayali" the Mayor of "Sabha" municipality, which is a hotbed for smuggling immigrants in the south of Libya, stated that "if Europeans want to allow them to stay, they can host them on their territories Which are larger.. But not in Libya because we have our own problems that we should take care of."[39]



Foreign Relations and Agreements

Several Libyan municipality delegations visited the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) in Turkey and thanked them for their humanitarian support activities in Libya[40]. Other meetings were held by municipalities of the west coast with a group of Chinese companies to discuss projects related to municipality services[41]. From his part, the Mayor of "Benghazi" municipality "Ahmad Laribi" met with the French businessman "Guilin Broga Gannon" and the member of the Egyptian parliament and Chairman of security companies "Nasseredin Mhanni" to discuss the security situation in "Benghazi" and ways to provide support and expertise[42].

The Role of Local Communities in Supporting the Reconciliation

It seems that the political and security conditions did not help to a large extent municipal councils to play a significant role in the reconciliation during February. The Minister of Local Governance of the National Accord Government "Bidad Gansou" stressed that his government's priority is to achieve a national reconciliation that includes a reconciliation between "Wershfana", "Zawiya", and "Janzour". "Gansou" pointed out to the reconciliation discussions the national Accord Government had with rulers, deputies, and members of municipal councils in “Zawiya"[43].


Challenges facing municipal councils and their performance of a more effective role at the local level are strongly present. There is a lack of financial resources to address citizens’ everyday living problems of food, electricity, water, health, education, fuel and infrastructure. Furthermore, security represents a challenge that has reached the extent of killing municipalities’ mayors and fabricating the electricity, water, fuel, transportation and other problems. These two challenges are the most serious to the work of councils and their ability to provide services to citizens.

Yet, there is a ray of light in the dark tunnel represented by municipal councils' serious attempts to reduce security and living problems and the support provided by governments which have pledged to continue to implement infrastructure projects and allocate funds to address living problems, as stated by the Deputy in Presidential council "Ahmed Maiteeq"[44]. In addition, negotiations around creating a supreme council for local administration is an important regulatory event that ensures the transfer of powers to local councils and enables them to better perform their role, as stated by the member of Presidential Council "Mohamed Amari Zayed"[45]. Local administration - according to the modern system- is the most capable and the most appropriate to provide services to citizens, and it is even a criterion to evaluate the State's progress and whether or not it pursues modern management methods. Geographical and demographic (population) characteristics of Libya indicate that the system of local governance is the most appropriate in dealing with crises plaguing the country and Libyan people - along with maintaining the government in the framework of coordination. However, this method of management requires the availability of financial and human facilities that enable it to play its role, rely on development and training plans to strengthen the concept of local governance and to transfer the administrative and financial authorities of these units to promote local areas.

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