The new parliament initially had two mandates: to elect a new transitional government and to name a 60-member panel to write the country’s constitution. Each of Libya’s three regions was to have 20 seats on the panel.
However, in a last-minute move, the current National Transitional Council decreed that the constitutional panel will be elected by direct vote instead, angering many candidates who campaigned largely on the basis of their role in overseeing the drafting of a charter.
The decree, according to NTC member Fathi Baja, left the elected legislature without a clear mandate and benefited the Islamists who will rally supporters to help them dominate the constitutional panel.
Baja said secularists were trying to prevent that from happening.
“We don’t want a theocracy to replace Gadhafi’s authoritarian rule,” he said.