LWPP Interview: First Libyan Female Candidate for Prime Minister 

Despite the fact that the Libyan political community has deliberated on a number of names of candidates for the presidency of a new government that may be formed after the agreement between the political parties, only a few of these names have declared their intention to run for office. Among these is Hanan AbdelQader AlFakhakhry.

Hanan AlFakhakhry is an activist in the field of Libyan women's political rights and a founding member of the Libyan Women's Platform for Peace (LWPP) and the Organization Promoting Women's Participation in Decision-Making in Benghazi. She has attended many scientific and political sessions and conferences in many countries. AlFakhakhry has 20 years of experience in the field of administration and finance; she headed the Accounts and Budget Unit of the Social Security Fund in Derna in 2000 and the Study and Planning Unit of the Social Security Fund in Derna in 2011.

To find out more about the most important details of AlFakhakhry's electoral program and her vision of women and youth issues, we conducted the following interview.

▪ What motivated you to run for government office in Libya?

The main motivation of my candidacy is striving to contribute to the diligent efforts to resolve the crisis that our country is going through, especially at this juncture when we need more than ever to intensify all efforts to address the series of calamities that have ravaged our homeland as well as highlighting the importance of focusing on mending the cracks that have appeared in our social fabric and which have harmed the country’s present and future.  Additionally,  a priority of mine is to reunite Libyans and end senseless conflicts that have  produced all the tragedies we are witnessing.

When I announced my candidacy in the midst of a group of women, it was for two purposes:

First, I wanted to pave the way for Libyan women to go beyond abstract wishes and aspirations, and  seize the moment and prove their worthiness to hold the highest positions of  leadership. I also aim to motivate women to run for ministerial and ministerial agents’ positions, to go beyond middle management circles to the ranks of political, administrative and economic leadership and to lead the charge in building a nation in which they have become the majority.

The second objective is to convey a clear-cut and meaningful message to all political spectrums and especially to the Libyan political community in Tunisia, that half of society which was excluded by the old culture and which some parties are still trying to exclude from resolute action on the ground, is declaring itself capable of proving itself in all walks of life. This includes the ability to lead the complex phase that Libya is going through despite the sharp divisions, the proliferation of weapons and the rise of extremism of all types, especially religious, as manifested by the terrorist organization of  ISIS (ISIL) and its appearance in some Libyan cities. I state that, despite all this, we declare that we will not fall behind in making the utmost sacrifices on an equal footing with the nation’s men, with merit and efficiency.

▪ What challenges do you expect to face as a woman?

It won’t be plain sailing; it is natural that there are many challenges that face women and that impede and obstruct, foremost of which, as I have said, is the influence of old culture on society and which confines women have narrow circles that are difficult to get out of. Primarily, the nature of Libyan society as an Eastern society is patriarchal, where a man has priority over a women in leadership positions, even if he is less efficient. We can amend this cultural heritage, which we are striving to break through, by demonstrating women's ability to implement action on the ground, rather than theoretically.

We also have to admit that women are not supportive of their own sex, because of ego-related reasons and a loss of confidence in their abilities, and by this I mean the role of women in decision-making centres; as members of the House of Representatives, the Council of State,..etc where women at this stage must have strong stances.

▪ Do you think that the Libyan people are ready to elect a woman as Prime Minister?

As you know, the next stage that I am aiming for is not an election. The prime minister's appointment will be made by the Presidential Council who will have been approved by the Parliament and the Council of State by choosing three members; one president and two vice-presidents, who then choose the prime minister.

▪ Do you think that if a woman assumes this position, she will have a different view and vision to that of a man?

Of course, because women are always inclined to peace and stability and are able to organize their houses from within more than men. Women always try to involve everyone and choose to discuss and consult. Women have the ability to manage things prudently and often pursue flexible tactics and do not rely on violence in conducting any business, which is what our country needs today.

▪ What is the form of government in your program, and will it be a limited (crisis management) government or a complete government?

 With regards to the government, I have named it "the Government of Stability and Peace", and it’s a crisis management government, because its duration is only 52 weeks, and this short period will not have an integrated project but only focus on crisis management. It deals with two important aspects; the first is to alleviate the suffering of Libyan citizens by resolving the crises they face in their daily life, and the second aspect is establishing security and safety through the unification of the army, the dissolution of  militias and the collection of  the weapons that are all over the country.

▪ On what criteria will you base your choice of ministers?

The standards are many and  include professional competence and specialization, having a degree of knowledge, experience and know-how, patriotism and managerial experience, as well as  the ability to address problems and improve performance in the ministry, and the ability to address public opinion, having integrity, honesty and a good reputation. They must also have personal qualities that qualify them to represent Libya in international forums. Additionally, they must present their ministry's project to be included in our general project.

▪ How will women be represented in your government?

The representation of women will be large, according to competence and specialization, and will not be limited to a specific ministry of a feminist nature.

▪ What is your vision for solving the problems of youth and their rehabilitation and will they be represented in the government?

The worsening economic, social and security situation, under a fragile political regime and a ferocious power struggle, has made the youth’s situation worse and more uncertain. And at the same time, most young people are victims of a conflict of values and cultural, ideological and political authorities.  Large numbers of them are turning more and more towards violence, becoming mere instruments driven by social and political forces with different agendas than those that should be for young people. Therefore, production structures are increasingly being fully disintegrated, with the emergence of attendant values that do not induce change, such as laziness, dependency, reluctance to innovate and create, and the declining of positive values, such as voluntariness and the demand for education and other driving and motivating values.

Our role in this matter will be through training, rehabilitation and the creation of management leaders who can begin to develop future plans and projects for the advancement of our youth, because they are the essential foundation of nation-building. They will have a role in our government and will have the opportunity to hold positions in accordance with competence and specialization. 

▪ How will you face the problems of lack of security and the proliferation of weapons?

With regard to the security file, we have had numerous meetings with the military and the revolutionaries, and everyone is in favour of controlling the security situation and restoring the prestige of the sovereign security apparatus.  Additionally, there is universal support for the principle of handing over security tasks to the police and the military as well as  military battalions surrendering their weapons and engaging in civilian life and soldiers joining the unified army of the nation. Many plans and programmes have been drawn up to dismantle militias and armed groups, and to collect the weapons which are all over the country at close intervals with fixed dates, as well as to provide an incentive to persuade these militias to abandon their gains and weapons and to integrate into civilian life. No further details can be given because it is very sensitive and requires confidentiality in both procedure and implementation.

▪ How can reconciliation between conflicting parties be achieved?

Reconciliation needs much support and assistance which are essential and which cannot take place without the inclusion of social components without exclusion or marginalization, as they all play an important and essential role at this stage in which the country is suffering from the absence of the law and a unified entity. Elders and dignitaries can find solutions to such issues if a place and time which are convenient for everyone are decided upon for representatives of the regions and tribes ( the elders, dignitaries, and any others they deem competent) to meet. 

 At this significant meeting, all outstanding issues -without exception- are presented, from complaints to demands without embarrassment, in an atmosphere of openness and transparency. Whatever is not to be resolved by customs is transferred to the law. The issue of regional and tribal militias should be discussed in terms of their possible dissolution or annexation to the army, where the elders and the sheikhs will have a say in this regard.

The other issue is directing the media as all the televised, written and electronic media channels must set forth simultaneously with the initiation of social events in broadcasting programmes and material that encourage reconciliation and contain messages that direct towards the need for compatibility and reconciliation between the conflicting and opposed components of Libya. This is done by presenting global experiences in this regard; such as South Africa's leading experience of reconciliation.  After that, the legal part comes as it is necessary that Libyan legal experts work to draft decisions and laws in accordance with restorative justice that include reparations, restitution of rights, return of displaced persons, release of prisoners and closure of prisons outside the authority of the State, as well as agreements on blood money and compensations, and the encouragement of tolerance and forgiveness as much as possible. After all of the above is done, the reconciliation of the political components becomes complementary to the foregoing, politicians of various backgrounds and perspectives reach an agreement through the amendment of the Sikhirat Agreement in a better atmosphere, and an interim government is formed until the referendum on the constitution is conducted and parliamentary and presidential elections are held based on a solid foundation for genuine, deep and comprehensive reconciliation.

▪ What is your vision for the future of Libya?

The issue of Libyans is that of needs, of economy, of management and of political and national dignity. That is why we must put in place development plans for the revival of the country and for  reconstruction as well as the resolution of economic and development issues. In oth trying ter words, aiming to create a paradise on Earth, with the availability of different resources and the existence of competent and skilled men and women. We must act like other developed nations, opening up fair competition in all areas, above all in the fields of economics, development, construction and rehabilitation of education and culture as a gentle force to change society from a subsidized consumer society to a dignified, creative and productive society.

Libya is a country rich in natural and human resources, and it is clear to everyone today that natural wealth is in its largest part depleted, including oil. The permanent wealth is the human resource, and it is the foundation without which there will not be any right progress or development. This can only be done by drawing up national scientific plans, not slogans, speeches and rhetoric, so efforts must be made to build and reconstruct.