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Libya's NTC adopts election law, drops women quota

TRIPOLI — The ruling National Transitional Council on Saturday adopted a new electoral law for Libya to form its first constituent assembly in June, dropping a quota set aside for women.

The law, announced on the NTC's Facebook page, scraps a draft proposal that would have reserved 10 percent of seats on the 200-member General National Congress for women, after it was criticised by women's and rights groups.

The law stipulates that two-thirds of the congress be made up of candidates from political groups, with the rest going to independent members.

"The NTC adopted the amended electoral law for electing the General National Congress in June," the council said on its official Facebook page.

NTC member Mukhtar al-Jaddal also confirmed the adoption of the electoral law.

"The NTC adopted the electoral law. The new law has abandoned the 10 percent quota reserved for women" that was proposed in the draft version of the law earlier this month, Jaddal told AFP.

The NTC said on its Facebook page that the adopted law calls for 136 seats of the assembly to go to candidates of political parties and the remaining 64 seats to be held by independents.

However, it also said each political party must have equal numbers of men and women in its list of candidates for the 136 seats.

NTC member Fathi Baja said the provision that two-third of the assembly seats be held by candidates from political groups was adopted "under pressure" from the Muslim Brotherhood.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is the only political group which can have a majority in the next election," Baja told AFP.

The adopted law, which could be revised if NTC requires, further permits candidates holding dual nationalities to contest future polls, the Facebook page said. The draft law had barred such candidates from contesting.

But the adopted law prohibits from contesting those who were part of the revolutionary committees and security apparatus of the previous regime.

The final text of the new electoral law is expected to be formally published in two or three days.

The NTC was to adopt the law last week but postponed it after violent protests at its offices in the eastern city of Benghazi, birthplace of the 2011 uprising which ousted Libya's longtime strongman Moamer Kadhafi.

The council, which spearheaded the bloody rebellion against Kadhafi and now rules the new Libya, is facing severe criticism over its functioning and choice of members.

Last week's protests in Benghazi saw the NTC's number two, Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, quit the council as residents opposed his membership over his belated defection from the former regime.

Protesters stormed the NTC offices in Benghazi and threw several home-made grenades last Saturday, demanding the entire council resign except a few members such as Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who heads the ruling body.

The formation of the General National Congress is part of the new Libya's 20-month roadmap since the NTC declared the country's "liberation" after Kadhafi's killing on October 20.

Under the roadmap, which the NTC published last August, the council is to hand over power to the elected assembly within eight months of the liberation and a constitution be drawn up.

The 37-article "constitutional declaration" covers 10 pages and details the main stages of a transition from the four-decade rule of Kadhafi.

The NTC, which was formed in Benghazi last February, will step down once the congress, taking over as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, holds its first session.