Post-regime change, Arabs eye the road to democracy

After the revolutions, it is elections. The celebrations have barely abated over the scalps of such invincible strongmen as Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak that key voiced across the Arab world are calling for focus on “strong constitutional transition” and post-election management. The concern is obvious. The Islamic world, spread from the Middle-East to Maghreb Africa, has not known parliamentary democracy, in fact no more than one leader in generations. Now, post-Arab Spring, the “transition regimes” are common here as are preparation for elections.

A conference organized by Morocco’s foreign ministry saw key political and intellectual voices flag their concerns while asserting that democracy was irreversible. As Ghazi Gherairi, head of the International Academy of Constitutional Law in Tunis, says, “No government in future can overlook concerns cutting across borders.”

Ironically, monarchies Morocco and Jordan have emerged as the reference points for democracy for their timely move towards reforms to preempt street battles which gripped regimes elsewhere. Experts believe the choice of the nature of democracy and the legal system would determine the fate of the revolutions. The decision on the nature of Islam and its relation to the State will be as crucial. Allagi, minister of justice in the Libyan transition regime, says that multi-party system and the independent judiciary were non-negotiable while the country could have any law, Islamic or otherwise. “Our constitution would enable such a system,” he said.

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Gaddafi ready to hold elections

Muammar Gaddafi would agree to internationally-supervised elections on condition that there is no vote-rigging, the Libyan leader’s eldest son told an Italian newspaper in an international view published on Thursday. “They could be held within three months. At the maximum by the end of the year, and the guarantee of transparency could be the presence of international observers,” Saif al-Islam told the daily Corriere della Sera. He said the elections could be supervised by bodies including the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations or even Nato, which has been bombing Gaddafi’s forces.

“The important thing is that the election should be clean, that there should be no suspicion of vote-rigging,” he said. “I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Libyans stands with my father and sees the rebels as fanatical Islamist fundamentalists, terrorists stirred up from abroad, mercenaries on the orders of (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy.”

He said his father would be ready to step aside if he lost the election but would not go into exile. “He will never leave Libya. He was born here and intends to die and be buried here, alongside those he holds dear.” “Let’s go to the polls and may the best man win,” Seif told reporters.

Meanwhile, at least five anti-Gaddafi rebels were killed and 30 wounded when they came under sniper attack in three villages they seized on Wednesday in western Libya, hospital sources said. The attacks took place in the villages of Zawit Bagoul, Lawania and Ghanymma, the hospital sources said.

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