Kadhafi says Libya no place for civil society

TRIPOLI - Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi said on Thursday the concept of civil society has no place in his country, just as a panel headed by his son Seif al-Islam was about to propose a law permitting the creation of non-governmental organisations.
In a televised address to the General People's Congress (GPC), Kadhafi said the idea of a civil society "is a bourgeois culture and an imitation of the West that has no place here.

Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi
In the West, a distinction is made between "an official govermental society and a civil society (made up of) non governmental institutions," he said, while in Libya society is "entirely civil."
After he headed a coup that overthrew the monarchy, Kadhafi introduced in 1977 the state of the masses (Al-Jamahiriya), built on people's congresses whose representatives sit in the GPC. This body, in theory, takes all political decisions, passes legislation and names ministers.
"Does a lawyer need a union to defend himself?" Kadhafi asked, after saying that unions were created for the weak.
However, he did encourage the creation of charitable organisations to help the "neediest" in society, such as orphans, abandoned women or even diabetics.
Kadhafi was speaking as a committee headed by his son was about to issue a bill that would set out a new penal code, which would no longer criminalise the creation of independent associations of a non-political character.
That would be a drastic change from current law, which mandates capital punishment for any person who creates, joins, supports or finances an organisation proscribed by law.

Friday, January 29th 2010

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