• April 7, 2009

Libya’s MB Chief: We don’t rely on US Admin. In political reform

Libya’s MB Chief: We don’t rely on US Admin. In political reform

The Libyan regime is one of the most autocratic and oppressive regimes in the world. Under this regime, the Libyan people have borne the brunt of crimes and oppression in the midst of a recent silence due to the reconciliation with the US administration which backpedaled on its calls for democratization.

Around this topic and other domestic issues, Ikhwanweb has this interview with eng. Sualiman Abdul Qader, the General Observer of the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot in Libya. He stressed that the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya doesn”t rely on the US administration in seeking political reform in the country. The Muslim Brotherhood rather seeks this through reactivating the Libyan people”s role and opposition to the current regime.


Ikhwanweb: First of all, where is the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya”s role in opposing Qaddafi”s regime?


Eng. Qader: The Muslim Brotherhood has a presence in the political landscape. We follow up issues of our homeland and try to have positive contributions. Our role isn”t restricted to opposing but it rather varies to include any serious steps in the reform process and in offering advice, sounding alert to any possible threats and criticizing steps and measures that may hurt the nation. Assessing any efforts should be based on the space allowed for such efforts to be carried out.


Ikhwanweb: The Libyan government has faced last March tough criticism from colonel Qaddafi himself to the extent that he cancelled it. There is a state of public anger towards the government”s performance, but to our surprise this government was reinstated. How do you see this government change?.


Eng. Qader: I”d like to point out that the Libyan government, i.e. Public Popular Government, doesn”t have the full powers in running state affairs. It is only a rubber-stamp body. The public policies and fundamental decisions are laid out by other bodies. This is the key problem in the government”s performance. Add to this the lack of a legislative body to play a legislative or supervisory body. The criticism piled up against the government-though part of the problem- hasn”t handled the core of the problem or even give solutions to the government”s executive or legislative problems. The solutions were restricted to dissolving some ministers, merging others. As for maintaining the government, it has serious indications: First: After all the spate of criticism and accusation of corruption that he piled up against the government, he maintained it in a way that may be interpreted as a satisfaction or acceptance of government corruption and legalizing corruption. Second: In spite of the lack of public satisfaction towards the government”s performance, and the quasi consensus that the government is a failure, and that corruption has mushroomed and is putting the national security in peril, the legislative body of the Popular Congress extends it with some slight changes. This means that the legislative body neither reflects nor cares for the public opinion.


Ikhwanweb: What do you think of the latest Libyan cabinet reshuffle, especially canceling some ministries and merging others?


Eng. Qader: The issue of canceling, then reinstating, then canceling secretaries has been overshadowing all rounds of the public Popular Congress. Well, the problem is that decisions aren”t taken due to chronic problems that the nation or the citizen is facing. Citizens” suffering isn”t cared for in the Popular Congress. For example, in the past three years, there was a decision of adopting a policy of state job cuts to move from a centralized management of economy to expand the private sector”s stake. Some 500000 employees in the state-run industrial and service sectors were sent to the workforce ministry to be rehabilitated to find jobs in the private sector. After dissolving this ministry, what will these employees do? To state another example, the discussions of the Popular Congress didn”t address the financial crisis facing western countries. This will definitely have an impact on developing countries including our country. Some may claim that this crisis will have no effect on Libyan economy, but some decisions were issued for increasing taxes on economic businesses under claims that they are measures to face the fallout of the crisis on people. Nothing was done to ease its effect on ordinary people. Only decisions were issued and the cost is directly paid by the Libyan citizens without discussing how far this crisis is affecting people, their living conditions or the main services that they bring from abroad. Thus, decisions are taken without any discussion, taxes are imposed without discussing the impact and subsidy on main foods is lifted. The citizen is an escape goat who is sacrificed whenever any plight or crisis hits. There is no analysis or discussion for the suffering people are experiencing.


Ikhwanweb: Can this government continue under what observers see as public anger and rage over its performance?


Eng. Qader: As I said before, we don”t rely on the government”s performance because it has limited powers and its structure isn”t in line with that of a modern state. Such a government has never reflected the feelings or suffering of the Libyan citizens. What happens is that every now and then this government is replaced by another in a game of changing names without discussing the real causes for such repeated failures which will obstruct the work of any official or minister whatever his efficiency or capabilities.


Ikhwanweb: Libya has recently paid attention to human rights issues, specially prisoners of conscience. Some affiliates of the Militant Islamic Group have recently been released. What are the success and failures in this file?


Eng. Qader: Al-Qaddafi Foundation- led by Saif Al-Qaddafi- is doing a good job in this file. The successes include adopting dialogue and avoiding the methods of the security services that added to the numbers of victims of systematic violence. As for the failure, it likely lies in not mapping out a method for dialogue, respecting the opposite views and containing the youth”s energies as a culture that drafts laws governing the country and run security services. I think that handling the real causes of these problems is of prime importance and requires urgent initiatives. This isn”t restricted to the issue of political detainees but it even includes other ending problems, like for example Abu Sleem massacre.


Ikhwanweb: On the occasion of mentioning Abu Sleem issue, I”d like to ask you about this case and your assessment to the regime”s handling?


Eng Qader: Abu Sleem is a case which left- according to human rights groups- 1200 unarmed prisoners dead without any legal foundation for their deaths. Most of these prisoners were detained in the period 1989-1995. The Libyan authorities officially admitted committing this massacre and AL-Qaddafi Foundation launched Libya Al-Haqiqa (Libya Truth) project to probe into the fate of detainees who were killed either during this massacre or due to torture, illness or hygienic negligence. However, some people have another view towards demands of the families of the victims as all means of pressure are practiced against them. Also, the security services have detained some of them on charge of contacting foreign authorities. It eventually turned from knowing fate of these victims to oppressing their families without discussing their demands and without any respect to the years long tragedies while they were waiting to know the fate of their children.


Ikhwanweb: then, we can say that there is a political will in this part?, could you please assess Saif Al-Islam Al-Qaddafi”s role who draws spotlights whenever he talks about human rights issues?


Eng. Qader: Let”s talk about some of these issues like hesitation: He announces for example Political Podiums, then this step is cancelled. Then he speaks about civil society insinuations while there is still law no. 19 that obstructs the creation of such insinuations. He may also talk about the constitution then he backpedals under the pretext that the Greater Charter of Human Rights and other charters are enough. I think that engineer Saif Al-Qaddafi has exerted a good effort in this field but there are still steps which are needed to taken to handle the real causes.


Ikhwanweb: But why there is such a hesitation while the Qaddafi Foundation has done all these efforts?


Eng. Qader: Well, some of these efforts pose a threat to some people”s influence and position and a threat to the wealth they gathered from public money. They will oppose such efforts not through their power or influence but by alleging that such efforts pose a threat to the nation and the regime and alleging that such efforts may be considered a victory to foreign powers. I think that the solution is that Colonel Al-Qaddafi understands the real interest from such steps because any oppression on people and on freedoms will be to the benefit of a few clique of people whose aim is to pile up influence and power. Meanwhile, people and the citizen see that the regime”s leadership is mainly responsible for this due to its ability to change. On the other hand, any open up and releasing of freedoms will be to the benefit of citizens who are the core of development and will be attributed to the regime”s leadership.


Ikhwanweb: In his latest statement, Abdul Hakim Bilhaj, the leader of the Militant Islamic Group, implicitly hinted at taking part in the so called development process in the country. This was considered a dramatic shift in this clash-based ideology. Do you think that this is possible and will the government allow this? What are your demands in this part as Muslim Brotherhood?


Eng. Qader: Reform is possible and opening op to engagement is possible and this will be to the benefit of the country. This will also curb corruption and will end nepotism and looting which are expanding every day but will the regime allow this. I think this is an important question but I can”t answer it. We call for opening up civil work and agree on a social contract that protects the country and its unity and stability. We see that maintaining oppression and rejections isn”t to the benefit of the nation.


Ikhwanweb: You said there is a state of hesitation in some files. This applies to the reform process which started with a relatively high volume but it is fluctuating. I there any cause for this fluctuation, how do you asses this?


Eng. Qader: The high volume was likely due to foreign intervention in foreign files that prevented the Libyan regime from returning to the international community. This was normal during the Bush administration with its fierceness against rouge regimes and with its undemocratic democratization. After the Bush administration, voices rose high claiming that the domestic affairs are easy to handle and there is a high return for voices that claim that domestic reform steps pose a threat to the security of the regime. Therefore the pace of reform has slowed down. We call for taking into consideration these domestic files that care for citizens” rights and care for improving people”s living conditions, care for the supremacy of the constitution and law, that care for domestic development and public freedoms. We call for not reducing reform to foreign files because national stability and development are linked with citizens” welfare and respecting their rights and dignity.


Ikhwanweb: Dou you think that the recent close relationship between the Libyan regime and the US administration has stripped the opposition of one its most important instruments?


Eng. Qader: We don”t rely on the US administration or any other foreign authority. We rather depend on Allah then we rely on the citizens” awareness of his rights, duties and will in attaining reform. We also rely on the regime”s conviction and will for reform and that reform will save the country. We see that the future sides with reform not only in Libya but also in the whole Arab region because the challenges and blocs facing our region can only be faced by unity between citizens and regimes. This can”t be attained when regimes adopt oppression and violate notional rights. The civil society institution should be given a space and the culture of freedom and rights should be spread and every one is responsible for this.


Ikhwanweb: Some see that the Muslim Brotherhood was the first to offer the issue of reform. What have you attained since you first called for this?


Eng. Qader: I”d to point out some issue: Our method is reform. It is an essential method which is reflected on the means we adopt in our work and it has never been affected by the status quo. We were facing accusations of spying for foreign spy agencies. Liquidations and executions have been haunting any one affiliated to our group. Due to the situation on the ground in our country, we haven”t declared this method of reform till it was appropriate to do so. When we did so, we were accused of spying and defecting from national opposition lines.

As for your question about our achievements, this is actually linked with the space allowed to us on the domestic level. Up till now, we are denied an official form-even in the form of a society- in the country. Our work area includes spreading the culture of reform, peaceful work, citizenship and national security. We don”t claim that we are the only ones to do s. there are may other sincere citizens of this country who do so whatever their views and trends. Due to these efforts, reform has become a national demand which is expanding among citizens. Reform needs to be put in the form of national projects and duties on the level of the state and citizen. When we raised the slogan of reform and faced hurdles for it, we only wanted it to be achieved, seeking reward from Allah.


Ikhwanweb: Is the Muslim Brotherhood directly engaged in hot files in the Libyan political circles like the constitution, the dialogue with the Militant Islamic Group and Abu Sleem issue and others?


Eng. Qader: We have a clear attitude and view but we don”t have any direct involvement not because of us but because we weren’t given the opportunity to do so.


Ikhwanweb: If you are asked to return to the country, what would be your conditions?


Eng. Qader: We don”t impose conditions on our homeland. We rather impose for it. All the demands we submitted are mainly targeting rights for every one including those opposing our views. Our demands can be seen as an umbrella for all national work. We demand that every one plays a role in reform.


Ikhwanweb: Could you please tell us how Libyan government deals with released Muslim Brothers inside Libya and whether there is a space for them to work in any field?


Eng. Qader: The available space is still not sufficient for every one seeking reform. We hope more legislations are enacted and more steps are taken to ensure rights and secure civil work and to lift the suffering on the Libyan citizens who are facing many problems in living in the main requirements of health, education and services.