5.1 Introduction

Since the fall of the Gaddafi regime in 2011, the Fezzan region has become increasingly neglected and unstable. As observed in Chapter 2, the region has always been subject to neglect in comparison with Cyrenaica and Tripolitania,[318] but since 2011 it has experienced a near total lack of state infrastructure. Libya as a whole post 2011 has been devoid of a united, functioning government, but in the Fezzan the situation has been further exacerbated for two reasons. First, the Tuareg and other groups were ostracised by the revolutionaries for their perceived or actual support for Gaddafi, and a deep-rooted racist sentiment towards darker-skinned inhabitants of the Libyan south (regardless of tribal or ethnic affiliation) began to be exhibited openly. Whole swathes of the Fezzan population were dismissed as ‘African mercenaries’ hired by Gaddafi, and therefore received little input, integration or representation in post-revolution decision making. Second, as security diminished throughout the south, local armed groups and opportunists took advantage of the enormous number of weapons that had been stored in the region during the Gaddafi regime. Thus, the Fezzan in recent years has been both neglected or wilfully ostracised, and highly armed.[319]

At the same time, post-revolution Libya institutionalised a formal, democratically-elected local governance system for the first time in its history. In the south, Ghat and Ubari became municipalities in 2013, each with municipal councils tasked with implementing the rule of law and service provision. This represents a significant departure from the Fezzan’s particular history of informal governance, traditionally implemented by tribal elites. This history extends back to Libya’s colonial era, when influential tribes would maintain allegiances and trade routes on behalf of the Ottomans, and was also highly visible during the Gaddafi era, when the regime would select and empower certain sheikhs and tribes to be enforcers at local level. The recent introduction of formalised local governance, at a time of heightened instability and neglect in the Fezzan, poses a key question of how this will interact with the region’s entrenched history of tribal dominance.

This chapter will illustrate how the position of traditional authorities in the Fezzan has been strengthened by recent state neglect, and how the paradoxical introduction of a local governance structure in conjunction with wholesale state absence has enabled these authorities to gain official platforms and manipulate Libya’s competing national forces for resources. Simultaneously, traditional authorities are dogged by questions of legitimacy and ethnic or tribal favouritism, and there remains a sense within the community that their influence is borne out of pragmatism and lack of credible alternatives. Finally, this chapter will discuss the implications of these findings for the future of local governance in the region, and put forward recommendations for possible interventions.

5.2 Traditional governance in the Gaddafi era and the impact of 2011

As outlined in Chapter 2.4.c, the role of traditional authorities in the Fezzan has changed considerably in 2011, and in particular the role of Tuareg institutions, which historically aligned with the Gaddafi regime. The peripheral location of Ghat municipality means that service provision has always been fragile, yet the investment and incentives afforded to its majority Tuareg population during the Gaddafi era helped to offset this. Since 2011 the municipality has been largely overlooked by central authorities, and has become isolated by the closure of both the Algerian border and vital roads linking it with Ubari and the north of the country. Starved of resources and state salaries under a failing local governance infrastructure, living standards in the municipality have declined rapidly. Traditional authorities now take on responsibilities far beyond the inter-tribal roles they played during the Gaddafi era, and are tasked with attempting to provide services and security to a community that has severe shortfalls in healthcare, sanitation, electricity and financial services.

Indeed, respondents were unanimous in their observation that traditional authorities had assumed greater responsibilities since 2011, even from a non-Tuareg perspective. For example, a municipal official in Ubari and member of an Arab tribe described the pre-2011 situation as traditional authorities being restricted to working within their own tribes, but following the revolution they now serve far larger and more diverse constituencies.[320] An influential Tuareg figure, who served as part of the ‘popular leadership’ – a committee of tribal leaders from across Libya formed and overseen by the Gaddafi regime – stated that during that era ‘there was little reliance on traditional authorities’[321] because, in his perception, state institutions and official bodies functioned far more effectively.[322] A prominent Tuareg figure and former head of the Ubari administrative office during the Gaddafi era documented his old responsibilities as follows: ‘During the former regime when I was in charge most people’s problems were simple… In the past people only thought about education and work and how to improve their family’s conditions. Now people think about electricity, banks, water shortages, weapons proliferation, insecurity, low levels of education, healthcare and other services, and food shortages’.[323]

Most respondents, regardless of affiliation, point out that traditional authorities pre-2011 were concerned with social issues such as mediation between families, and their work in recent years has become more expansive and governance focused. This expansion of responsibilities was partly demanded by the traditional authorities themselves, as several ethnic and tribal groups sought greater political participation and citizenship rights following the 2011 revolution. Access to political power also became more tangible in the post-2011 climate, with the introduction of law 59 on local governance in 2012, which formally established local administrative units and electoral processes.[324] Various ethnic and tribal groups now saw an opportunity to gain official representation via tactical voting among their communities. However, increased responsibilities for traditional authorities in this context has also arisen out of necessity, as the presence of official local governance structures in the south has declined markedly, particularly since the outbreak of civil war in 2014. Conflict between rival national factions led to severe shortages in services, delayed salary payments, an increased presence of armed groups, and a decline in security and the rule of law.[325] This latter increase in responsibility for traditional authorities has not come without its problems, whether in terms of capacity and resources, or in terms of influence from Libya’s various political allegiances.

5.2.1 Traditional leaders in their own words

The vast majority of Libyan traditional authorities interviewed in this study came to power through informal mechanisms, often by virtue of their stature within their tribe, and their tribe’s relative influence within the community. Many more rose to prominence through designation by tribal elites. Crucially, and as opposed to the situation in our other country studies, none of the Libyan traditional authorities interviewed described ascending to their position via a popular vote. This reflects the fact that democratically elected local governance is a new phenomenon in Libya (from 2012 onwards), and influential traditional authorities in the Fezzan, such as the Tuareg, have only recently become institutionalised in a manner that allows them to put forward election candidates and canvas votes effectively.

Figure 5
Mode of accession of the Libyan respondents in the two municipalities studied
Mode of accession of the Libyan respondents in the two municipalities studied

The roles and responsibilities of traditional authorities in their own words provide a unique insight into local governance dynamics in the Fezzan. Traditional leaders interviewed were often bullish in their assessment of their effectiveness in governance. For example, a former SSTC member claimed that the Tuareg council now solves all problems in Ubari.[326] One Tuareg tribal sheikh even argued that traditional authorities are now more powerful than official structures. He explained that traditional authorities have become ‘the ones who monitor the municipal authorities and hold them to account’, in addition to taking on more responsibilities and duties that were formerly the remit of formal governance.[327] When asked why citizens of Ghat and Ubari would choose to approach them instead of formal authorities, traditional leaders gave similar reasons, such as being more trustworthy and more flexible in terms of meeting times and locations. The notion of being more trustworthy is particularly pertinent among respondents from Ubari, where the mediation role of tribal elders during the 2014 Ubari war helped to strengthen relations and trust considerably, according to various traditional leaders and civil society representatives.

Box 16
The 2014 Ubari war

In the years that followed the 2011 revolution, Ubari was severely affected by a lack of employment and legitimate economic opportunities resulting from the wider decline of Libyan national security, prompting a burgeoning illicit economy and a rise in tensions among the town’s residents over scarce resources and local power. What began in 2014 as a low-level dispute between Tuareg and Tebu fuel smugglers became a wide-scale conflict between armed groups, often acting as a proxy for warring national factions, that lasted until a ceasefire in February 2016. The Ubari war resulted in the deaths of over 300 people and left more than 2,000 injured. It also destroyed the town’s central business district and residential areas – much of downtown Ubari remains in a state of disrepair – and more than half of the town’s population became displaced.[328]

Several respondents hinted at the ability for greater cross-border cooperation by virtue of being part of a multinational ethnic group such as the Tuareg or Tebu. The former mayor of Ubari explained that traditional authorities are in regular contact with their counterparts across state boundary lines to find solutions to problems such as drug trafficking or arms smuggling.[329] A former civil servant, not affiliated to any traditional authority, conceded that when it comes to border conflicts, ‘informal authorities may play a better role than the official authorities because of the knowledge of the people of the region and their awareness of the nature of surrounding societies in the neighbouring countries’.[330] A tribal dignitary similarly observed that, ‘our good relations with the desert tribes in the neighbouring countries of Algeria and Niger can contribute to strengthening relations between these peoples’.[331] Traditional authorities were also better placed in other areas – a former mokhtar elaborated on the responsibilities of his role in particular, involving matters of personal status law, and stated that such a role could not be performed by a state official coming from outside the community, as it requires an understanding of traditional customs.[332]

However, despite the undeniably significant role undertaken by these authorities, and the efforts of some respondents to champion informal governance structures as being on a par – or even superior to – official governance in the Fezzan, there was an overwhelming sentiment of subordination expressed by many traditional leaders, suggesting that traditional authorities themselves consider their role to be unequal to that of the state. Traditional authorities are inclined to point out the asymmetries in this relationship with formal power structures. A representative from a council of elders lamented the distorted relationship between formal and informal structures, urging that the municipality grant traditional authorities ‘a fundamental role rather than considering us merely in a supporting role’. He blamed the national-level conflict and the resultant competing governments as a factor behind the perceived marginalisation of traditional authorities, claiming that ‘we do not have a clear place among them’. He portrayed the council of elders’ role in Ghat as a lobbying body – a means of putting pressure on the municipal council on behalf of the Tuareg people.

This sentiment is echoed by a tribal sheikh who said that people come to him because as the sheikh of their tribe he can represent them in front of official bodies. It is also reflected by a dignitary of another tribe, and member of the council of elders, who said the council is effective in ‘pressing the municipal council and its institutions to do their part’.[333] Such rhetoric implies that traditional authorities in general consider themselves to be go-betweens, capable of accommodating the concerns of the community in an accessible manner, and then using their connections and stature to press the municipal council and other state institutions into taking action.

There are notable examples in the interview data where traditional authorities also concede that the municipal council and official institutions are better placed to implement effective governance. On the subject of regional disputes, the tribal dignitary observed, ‘maybe our role here is less influential because central authorities have greater capacity than social authorities’.[334] Two prominent members of the Ghat Council of Elders openly acknowledged that the traditional governance structure was not equipped to fully cater for the needs of society, and recognised that this left traditional authorities out of their depth in some regards. One suggested that the absence of state institutions in the region ‘weighs upon us and burdens us with responsibilities greater than our capabilities, having to take on matters that are not within our competence’. When asked what such burdens entailed, the Council of Elders member cited a lack of employment opportunities for residents, coupled with the rising cost of living.[335] Another member said, ‘The dignitaries do not have the potential of the official authorities and there are problems greater than the capacity of traditional authorities that need solutions from the government.’[336] These sentiments do not imply that traditional authorities resent their greater responsibility, but it is clear that the current situation does not enable them to perform the role of the state effectively amid such a governance vacuum.

Figure 6
Functions of traditional authorities interviewed in the two Libyan municipalities
Functions of traditional authorities interviewed in the two Libyan municipalities

5.2.2 Traditional leaders in the eyes of the community

To ascertain the effectiveness of traditional authorities in governance, this study also conducted several interviews and focus groups with religious leaders, members of civil society and the private sector in Ghat and Ubari.

In general, religious figures interviewed for this project expressed admiration for the work of traditional authorities in the region, with a Ghat-based Imam stating that they are a ‘better and more viable solution than going to official authorities’. However, other respondents pointed to a relationship that was at times strained. A muezzin at a mosque in Awainat stated that, ‘In the framework of religion we may not agree with the tribal authorities in some customs that are contrary to the rules of religion.’[337]

Civil society activists interviewed unanimously suggest that traditional authorities are indeed influential and prominent in Ghat and Ubari. One Tebu women’s rights activist remarked that ‘traditional authorities are closer to us than other authorities. They even welcome us in their homes’.[338] A representative of the Ubari Youth League attested that ‘traditional authorities are acting as mediators to resolve disputes faster than other authorities’.[339] The reputation of traditional authorities among civil society is particularly positive in Ubari, where their mediation work during the Ubari war and in the following years was greatly appreciated. For example, a women’s education and training activist claimed that traditional authorities left an ‘excellent footprint’ in ending the war, while after the war they developed a programme for reconciliation and the return of displaced people.[340] A prominent Tebu civil society activist also praised traditional authorities for being ‘instrumental’ in reducing conflict and subsequent tensions between Tebu, Tuareg, and Ahali populations.[341]

Box 17
The role of tribal mediators in the Ubari war

The role of traditional authorities in mediating a lasting ceasefire between Tuareg and Tubu fighters in the Ubari conflict is often cited by the Ubari community as a fundamental reason for their support and legitimacy in the town. In 2015, both the Libyan National Army (LNA) and Government of National Accord (GNA) factions sought to bring about an end to the conflict through mediation, making use of local interlocutors to gather together prominent actors from each side in the same room. Tribal sheikhs and elders were particularly effective in this context as they had unparalleled access to the military factions of each side.[342] However, brokered ceasefires were fragile and quickly fell apart, largely due to ineffective national security institutions to enforce them and a lack of investment or foresight given to address the town’s endemic poverty and lack of employment opportunities, both underlying grievances of the Ubari fighters.[343] A lasting ceasefire was only achieved in 2016 under the sponsorship of international actors such as Qatar, Algeria and Italy, away from the politicized GNA-LNA divide. Tribal mediators were once again central to facilitating the ceasefire process in successive meetings in Doha and Rome. Implementation of the Ubari ceasefire also has an element of tribal mediation, with the Arab Hassawna tribe being identified as a (relatively) neutral peacekeeping force by both sides to implement the agreement on the ground.[344]

However, as expressed by the authorities themselves, civil society and private sector representatives suggest the role of traditional leaders is most effective as a link, or a vehicle, to convey citizens’ concerns to the state in order to get things done. Two representatives from the education sector gave examples of when traditional authorities have lobbied the state effectively on their behalf. One education supervisor recounted that ‘here in education we had a shortage of books so we went to the traditional authorities who then went to the ministry and received the books’.[345] An influential school principal in Ubari explained that many students lack national identification numbers or registration documents, and traditional authorities are able to ‘facilitate procedures’ whereby pupils and students can communicate with municipal education officials to resolve the problems quickly and obtain documentation.[346]

Focus group data gathered from Ghat municipality reinforces the perception among civil society activists that traditional authorities are the de facto leadership in the region. However, participants in a youth focus group suggested that they do not provide equitable governance to the whole municipality. One participant explained how sometimes traditional authorities would provide extra services to their relatives and tribal group, while another urged them to give priority to the citizens ‘not just themselves’.[347] Older focus group participants claimed that traditional authorities enjoyed their current power and influence at the expense of state institutions, which were described as ‘divided and uncoordinated’, ‘incapable of solving problems’ or even ‘non-existent’.[348] However, these elder residents also stressed that they resorted to traditional authorities out of pragmatism rather than preference, and suggested that they would follow the dominant authority in the region, whatever that might be, in order to gain access to resources.

The above implies that despite the current stature of traditional authorities in local governance in the Libyan south, the popular support enjoyed by these entities stems not only from tribal loyalty, but also from the incompetence or lack of credible alternatives. The overall impression from civil society respondents supports that of the majority of traditional authorities interviewed – the conditions in Ghat and especially Ubari are deplorable and basic infrastructure is severely lacking. Traditional authorities cannot replace the state fully in their current capacity and they acknowledge this. However, the transnational networks and informal organisation of such authorities mean they are better placed to respond directly to the needs of citizens in the south and then convey such concerns effectively to policy makers.

5.3 Challenges for engaging with traditional authorities

5.3.1 The merging of formal and informal governance structures

A particular challenge for future engagement with traditional authorities is that it is becoming increasingly unclear how such entities should be defined, and distinctions between formal and informal governance structures in southern Libya are increasingly blurred. Such a situation is nothing new in the Fezzan, particularly among the Tuareg, who have a history of being selectively co-opted into the Gaddafi security and governance apparatus. But since 2011, and with the dwindling state presence in the region, traditional authorities have become more formally entwined with municipal authorities, rather than existing as distinct entities. This could have lasting implications for the legitimacy of traditional authorities – who have developed a reputation in the eyes of the community as more flexible, approachable and effective than state counterparts. The phenomenon could also have an impact on future policy interventions in the region; increasing state incorporation of traditional authorities expands the spectrum of entry points for international governments and organisations and potential actors they can work with.

Much of the amalgamation of formal and informal authorities stems from the local governance law 59 of 2012, which has served as an entry point for traditional authorities to democratically achieve political representation through local elections. This is apparent with the 2019 election of Ahmed Matako Mustafa, a high ranking member of the SSTC, as mayor of Ubari. The mayor of Ghat, Komani Saleh, was also interviewed for this project and is reputed to have strong relationships and influence with the Tuareg. Many respondents with important positions in traditional authority structures spoke of their influence over the formation of the municipal council, particularly since 2011 and the decline of state presence in the south. A member of the council of elders explained that the practice of elections for state authorities in the region is ostensibly democratic, but in reality the outcome is predetermined. This is because nowadays ‘most people resort to electing or appointing their relatives or tribesmen to hold official positions’.[349] An eminent member of the Maqarghasan tribe went as far as to suggest that since 2011 and the absence of active government personnel in the region, the municipal council of Ghat has been formed via a consensus among prominent tribal members.[350] Finally, a former mokhtar for the region of Awainat observed that ‘[tribal] social councils have become involved in the work of the official authorities, even in the assignment of official positions’.

This represents both a challenge and an opportunity for traditional authorities – an opportunity in the sense that they have access to greater resources and capacity as a result of gaining influence and high-ranking positions within the state apparatus. However, it also poses a challenge as traditional authorities have gained credibility by posing as an alternative to the state mechanism, and many traditional figures interviewed maintain their distance from the state. Moreover, those not directly affiliated to a traditional or official authority identify a clear boundary between the two. It remains a challenge for traditional authorities to balance their growing involvement at municipal level with the unique advantages of informal governance as identified by their communities.

5.3.2 Armed governance

Since 2014, Libya has been divided between competing governments based in the east and west of the country. At present Tripoli hosts the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), created in December 2015 as part of the UN-sponsored Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). In the east sits the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), which does not endorse the GNA.

In reality, both competing governments are dependent on networks of armed groups that dictate proceedings on the ground. In the east, General Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) is a combination of military brigades and armed groups which acts as the armed forces of the HoR.[351] In the west, local armed groups have divided Tripoli into areas of control and the GNA has been forced to cede resources and important positions in order to operate.[352] Armed groups are dominant throughout the country, often mobilising around city boundaries or ‘city-states’ in urban areas, or along tribal and ethnic lines in more rural areas, particularly in the south of the country.[353]

In the Fezzan, tribal armed groups have taken sides in accordance with the national-level GNA-LNA conflict. In general, Tuareg brigades have mostly sided with the GNA, although General Haftar has succeeded in persuading Tuareg offshoots to fight on his behalf. Most Tubu forces believe the LNA favours Arab armed units over non-Arab ones, and they therefore fight under the loose umbrella of GNA forces.[354] The LNA meanwhile has been successful in forging local alliances with armed groups affiliated to predominantly Arab tribes such as the Awlad Suleiman and Zuwai.[355]

It is impossible to fully address the local governance challenges in the Fezzan without acknowledging the existence, and in some cases dominance, of this armed governance in the region. Residents interviewed for this study varied in their perceptions of how influential armed groups were in their municipality, but the strongest indications of a powerful armed presence came from Ubari respondents. Focus groups of Ubari youth, women and elderly residents all suggested that armed groups were in control of the municipality, either exclusively or in conjunction with traditional authorities or the municipal council.[356] They commented that such groups did not provide services to the community and could not be approached for assistance, so they could not be considered to be governance actors in the traditional sense. Nevertheless, both formal and informal authorities must engage effectively with armed groups and leverage their influence in order to govern.

Very few interviewees in senior traditional authority positions were willing to divulge information on the subject of armed groups. A former head of the Ubari revolutionaries battalion disclosed that he worked closely with traditional authorities on security issues when he led the battalion, but his group did not interfere in non-security matters. He also touched upon the instability and volatility created by the presence of armed groups in the region, stating that each one can ‘impose its will on the ground’ if it wishes to do so.[357] One particularly candid respondent, a former SSTC member and sheikh of an influential tribe, explained that ‘they are our brothers and they defend the homeland. We consider them kin and we don’t consider them armed groups.’[358] This sentiment implies that the military arm of the Tuareg is considered a legitimate security actor within the context of the SSTC, and therefore is considered part of the traditional authority itself.

In a separate exchange, a member of the Relations Committee of the SSTC indicated that all of the Tuareg armed factions are registered military brigades affiliated with either the GNA or the Interim-Government of the East and the LNA. The committee member added that forces located at oilfields, such as al-Sharara near Ubari, work under the authority of the National Oil Corporation (NOC). Thus, the allegiances of these groups with national actors in Tripoli or Cyrenaica partially explains why they are not perceived as armed groups, as they are considered part of the country’s military structure. Furthermore, the committee member stated that the SSTC has a member with a military background, usually a colonel, responsible for coordinating efforts between the two entities on issues of mutual interests. The Council has also established under its patronage a joint military operation room, composed of representatives from the Tuareg armed factions.[359]

The existence of armed groups within traditional governance models poses a challenge internally. There are numerous Tuareg armed groups in the region and it has proven difficult to maintain coherence among them, or secure their allegiance to the SSTC. When asked about this issue, the Relations Committee of the SSTC admitted that there is a high level of coordination between the Council and the Tuareg Brigades on social and Fezzan-centric issues. Regarding security, brigades tend to follow the commands of whoever pays their salaries in either Tripoli or Cyrenaica. Stocker (2014) observes these significant challenges to security and effective governance in the Fezzan region and relates it to ‘the empowerment of young fighters who reject governmental and tribal authority’.[360] Armed groups also pose a challenge externally, as national and international organisations may be reluctant to engage further with traditional authorities if they are seen to be supporting armed movements.

Yet it is also important to acknowledge the role that armed actors in the Fezzan perform in determining the stability of the region. For example, Tuareg brigades exhibited unity and restraint in their reaction to the LNA military operation in the Fezzan in early 2019. To avoid war and maintain relative peace in their areas of influence, the leaders of the Tuareg Brigades – in cooperation with the SSTC – agreed to declare their allegiance to Haftar and granted him control over public institutions in their areas.[361] The brigades made their loyalty conditional on increased LNA support in order to address the Fezzan’s acute issues. Haftar, who has been occupied with his war efforts on Tripoli, has thus far failed to honour Tuareg demands, which places the longevity of their agreement in jeopardy.

5.3.3 A divided traditional governance landscape

Aside from a blurred traditional governance landscape, it is also necessary to highlight the extent to which traditional authorities are divided among themselves. There is a clear sentiment among various respondents – including representatives of traditional authorities themselves – that traditional authorities have aligned themselves along national conflict lines since 2011 and particularly since the East-West divide in 2014, often having to pick a side in order to secure some semblance of service provision.

One member of the Tuareg Council of Elders based in Awainat confirmed that, ‘the Council of Elders is divided in its work, which is influenced by political matters. This, in turn, has influenced some decisions’.[362] Another member revealed how politicization was not optional for the Tuareg in order to remain pragmatic, stating, ‘we are dealing with a fait accompli. We have to deal with the two governments and this leads to greater problems. Sometimes we find ourselves a party to the conflict, rather than a mediator of the solution.’[363] The former deputy mayor of Ubari revealed that this division became apparent in the town during the Tebu-Tuareg conflict of 2014. He said, ‘During the Ubari conflict traditional authorities’ work became linked to the political parties because the conflict in Ubari was linked to the East and the West and to the gains on the ground’.[364]

The reference to ‘gains on the ground’ underlines the instability and volatility that is generated through the division between traditional authorities, as local security forces, councils and committees can suddenly switch allegiance in an effort to secure the best access to resources or financial reimbursement. A former deputy member of the Council of Elders explained that this volatility could in fact work to the advantage of traditional authorities, stating, ‘we do not have a monopoly on us as a traditional authority. We do not follow any government, but any government body can provide aid and assistance, whether from the East or the West.’ Yet these external influences mean it is highly difficult for traditional authorities such as the SSTC to achieve a consensus, or for the Tuareg population to maintain a unified front among its armed and civil units, which poses a significant challenge for inclusive future governance.

The division also extends to traditional actors outside of the SSTC. A muezzin from Ghat described the 2014 conflict as creating ‘another kind of division between people and even among the clergy. Each team supports a political orientation, which has created a religious conflict even in some mosques.’[365] The division even extends to the youth and recreational sphere, where the president of Ghat’s largest football team revealed that since 2014 the club has split in two, with one team affiliated with the government in the East, and the other with the West.[366] These anecdotes reveal that the polarity blighting Libya at large is also evident at local level, and transcends ethnic or traditional bonds. The politicization of tribes, religious institutions and civil society presents a major challenge to effective governance in the region, particularly with the duplication of entities working in competition for already limited resources.

5.3.4 The risk of entrenching exclusionary practices

As explained in the historical chapter, traditional authorities in the Fezzan, such as the Tuareg, have maintained an elitist structure, with positions of authority allocated to ‘nobles’ – i.e., prominent members of influential tribes. Testimonies from the communities of Ghat and Ubari also suggest that despite democratic elections the tradition of nominating the most powerful nobles to power is still very much alive, and current authorities have a tendency to prioritise the interests of their own tribe once in power. The Tuareg caste system also historically designated the least influential members of the community as slaves or servile classes. Although slavery may be ostensibly outlawed in contemporary Tuareg society, many exclusionary practices remain in force, such as the distinction and hierarchy between indigenous Libyan Tuareg groups and returnee or migrant Tuareg tribes from other countries, as detailed in Chapter 2.4.c. The examples below illustrate how in certain cases traditional authorities can improve access to and participation in local governance, yet the adoption of these structures as the dominant system can reinforce existing patronage systems and exclude certain members of society.

The involvement of traditional authorities in local governance can provide access and opportunities for other actors who would otherwise be unable to operate in Ghat or Ubari. For example, in 2016 when a Misratan group of the Young Arab Voices NGO sought to expand their work in the south of Libya, and create dialogue between young Misratans and young people in Ghat, the group approached tribal authorities in order to gain an entry point. A young member of a tribe in Ghat was able to facilitate initial access and protection for the NGO, and young people from Misrata and Ghat were able to come together in a ‘peaceful atmosphere’ to discuss the future of their country.[367]

However, evidence from Ghat and Ubari suggests that tribal or traditional governance structures can also have a negative impact. A notable example of this occurred between March 2013 and July 2014, when a group of young activists attempted to secure more employment opportunities at the Al-Sharara oil field for residents of Ghat and Ubari. Initially, this popular mobilisation was aided by tribal affiliation – armed Tuareg units supported the demonstrators as they approached the site demanding jobs for locals – and the oil company and Zintan brigades overseeing the site ultimately agreed to the demands. However, while the protesters were keen for a transparent, equitable recruitment process – taking into account social aspects such as marital status, place of residence and number of employed family members, and disregarding tribal or ethnic affiliations – tribal chiefs attempted to seize control and impose themselves as distributors of employment opportunities. As the oil company was overwhelmed with the volume of job applications from Ghat and Ubari they deferred to the tribal chiefs as administrators, and Tuareg and Tebu elites soon reserved the best opportunities for their tribal inner circle. Therefore the involvement of tribal authorities in local governance in this instance enabled the perpetuation of an exclusionary patronage system, which was only overturned with renewed protests in October 2013, when activists reached out to the poorest and most vulnerable communities to mobilise and establish a blockade on Al-Sharara. The blockade lasted until early 2014, and the activists were able to successfully pressure for greater involvement, at the expense of tribal elites, in the distribution of hundreds of jobs to local youths.[368]

The sense of disconnect between tribal authorities and young people is a recurring theme in south Libya,[369] and its manifestations extend beyond the above example. Youth focus groups held in Ghat and Ubari were particularly vocal in their criticisms of tribal sheikhs serving their own interests rather than those of the wider community, and were enthusiastic in their calls for those in power to take responsibility or be replaced by more competent candidates. They felt that addressing youth unemployment should be a key priority in the Fezzan, and called for greater consultation between those in power and younger constituents. The sense of disillusionment and exclusion among impoverished young people makes them highly susceptible to armed groups, lured by salaries and the opportunity to impose a degree of influence on the ground.

As a result, the incorporation of tribal authorities into governance structures can have a limited impact on the ground if younger, often militarised, members of the tribes wish to pursue a different agenda. In an effort to combat this, there have been efforts in the region to encourage communication and connections between young people and traditional elders. For example, in Kufra, the Dialogues of Good People initiative stages regular meetings between Tebu elders and younger tribal members to give the latter an opportunity to convey their views and influence policy. Alunni et al. (2017) consider this an important way of bridging generational gaps in the town, with the end goal of building social cohesion and ensuring that local governance is as representative as possible.[370]

5.3.5 Differences among citizens about what should constitute governance

Figure 7
The future of local governance in Libya
The future of local governance in Libya

Aside from determining what constitutes a traditional authority, and which components of such a governance structure to work with, a further challenge for the future of the region is the differing perspectives among residents of Ghat and Ubari about what should constitute governance and who should implement it. The considerable differences among the populace can be traced back to previous allegiances, particularly among the Tuareg, with the Gaddafi regime and its model of state-centric governance maintained and administered locally through the co-option of certain tribal elites. As a result, while tribal elites empowered under this system would welcome its return, many residents of Ghat and Ubari favour a diminished role of the tribe in future governance, with greater emphasis placed on state institutions. Yet other citizens are particularly wary of state institutions, perhaps owing to the years of state neglect towards Ghat and Ubari, and especially following the devastating war in Ubari in 2014.

Initial focus group discussions held in Ghat and Ubari municipalities in early 2019 indicated that there is an overwhelming sense of disillusionment and lack of confidence in state institutions at present. All focus group participants in both municipalities were dissatisfied with their current municipal council, and considered its structure to be both confusing and ineffective. However, despite the shortcomings, the sessions revealed that most citizens do not want to deviate from this model of governance, but would prefer more information and input in order to make the council more effective. This sentiment was expressed by both younger and older generations, with a participant in a youth focus group in Ghat calling for workshops to be held in the future ‘to define the functions and duties of the municipal council’.[371] One member of a focus group for older Ghat residents advocated new municipal council elections to be held in order to address the divides and uncertainty surrounding the current institutions.[372] A women-only focus group held in Ubari echoed the calls for new elections with more ‘consultative’ input from the municipality, in order to move on from the current leadership that was considered neither credible or efficient.[373]

The focus groups revealed a strong preference across society for representative democracy based on elected individuals and institutions. There was also a clear desire for more inclusive and expansive local policymaking, incorporating wider components of society as opposed to governance administered by a small municipal leadership or select traditional authorities. A participant in a Ghat women-only focus group stated that ‘citizens of the municipality [should be able to] choose the right person for the right role’,[374] while another individual in the same session argued for the increased involvement of civil society organisations and the private sector in municipality governance.[375] In Ubari, there was a clear indication among young respondents for the election of technocrats, or as one participant described, ‘highly qualified individuals from the education and cultural spheres’.[376] Many Ghat citizens consulted also favoured a hierarchal, state-centric system of devolved governance, with local authorities being answerable to higher powers. During a focus group with teachers and education professionals, one participant insisted that ‘once an authority has been assigned to their position, that authority must be directed from above, by the Libyan government’.[377]

These preliminary findings suggest that residents of Ghat and Ubari municipalities are still in favour of elected, state-affiliated local governance structures rather than the informal model of security and service provision currently being exercised by traditional authorities and armed groups. To examine this phenomenon further, this study conducted a workshop with residents of both Ghat and Ubari,[378] presenting them with two scenarios from the recent history of the region (the 2014 Ubari war and the 2019 flooding in Ghat). Participants were asked to map out the key actors who responded to such events, the coordination between them, and the hierarchy of responsibilities. A third scenario (a hypothetical international NGO entering the region to fund a rule-of-law project) was then presented so that participants could envisage future governance dynamics in such conditions.

The results of the exercise for the 2014 Ubari war unsurprisingly revealed a unanimous consensus that armed groups were the most powerful actors in that scenario. However, a distinction was made between commanders of battalions based in the municipality and ‘external forces’ – armed groups affiliated with the GNA and LNA who subsequently entered the area. Both sets of armed groups were considered to have equal influence at the top of the actor pyramid, yet armed groups originally based in Ubari enjoyed far better relationships with actors further down the hierarchy. For example, traditional authorities, both Tebu and Tuareg, featured prominently in the second layer of influence, yet their relationships with external forces were only sporadic compared to established channels of communication and cooperation with Ubari-based groups. As the conflict continued, Ubari-based armed groups were able to provide more effective governance and services on account of their connections with local traditional authorities, whereas the external forces were not accepted as legitimate governors, despite their military influence.

For the Ghat flooding incident the majority of respondents highlighted tribal authorities, particularly the SSTC, as the most effective and quickest responders. The number of actors involved in such a crisis response was significantly reduced in comparison to the Ubari war, and the hierarchy of responsibilities was heavily concentrated among traditional authorities. Civil society actors featured relatively prominently, but served mainly a logistical function under the directives of the SSTC. Both the GNA and LNA were depicted in participants’ hierarchies, but neither were considered influential in this context, given their lack of connection with local actors and an inability to deliver relief promptly.

Box 18
The 2019 flooding in Ghat

In June 2019 Ghat witnessed consistent heavy rainfall that flooded an estimated 70% of the municipality. This led to a humanitarian crisis, with over 1,000 residents displaced, entire food stockpiles destroyed, drinking water contaminated, and telecommunications shut down access in the region. The GNA allocated LD 10 million (EUR 6.5 million) as a disaster relief fund, the final destination of which remains unclear, and trucks carrying emergency supplies were ineffectively slow due to the isolated location of the municipality.[379]

The hypothetical future scenario revealed the clearest differences among citizens with regard to future governance in the region. A respondent from Ubari, for example, displayed a clear mistrust of the GNA and the LNA, claiming that citizens of the town now feel they cannot trust outsiders following years of neglect or broken promises. This respondent advocated that an international NGO should channel all communication and programming through the SSTC. To her, all tribal authorities seemed in sync and coordinated directly with one another, presenting a unified front. However, their ability to communicate well with the average citizen represented by civil society and other youth forums was challenged and seemed problematic for a future governance model with a greater role for the tribal authority. A respondent from Ghat similarly placed an improved version of the state in the governance structure. To him, as state offices begin to play a more efficient role, the role of the tribe would begin to diminish and fade out, limiting its activities to the social realm. However, a third respondent from Ghat, with a particular affiliation to the Gaddafi regime, envisaged a future governance scenario with a greatly diminished role for state institutions as part of attempts to build an alternative model that challenges existing regimes and bring back expertise and influence from old regime personnel.

Differing opinions about what future local governance should look like were also evident in interviews with civil society respondents. Although all civil society respondents acknowledged the role of traditional authorities in governance in recent years, and identified traditional outlets as more effective and approachable than state ones, there were a significant number who were keen for such authorities to have a lesser role in future. A female Tebu activist exemplified this sentiment, stating that, ‘We elected the municipality and now we must focus on the work of the municipal council and cooperate with it to change our municipality.’[380] An education professional argued, ‘Activating the municipal council and working to ensure the role of traditional authorities [in relation to that] is important… so that the law, the judiciary, the army and the police will work. Stability cannot come unless the state is secure and stable.’[381] These responses typify an underlying impression throughout interviews with civil society members, namely that traditional authorities have proven to be effective in the region largely due to the absence or deterioration of the state, and should not be considered a long-term replacement. There remains a strong preference among civil society respondents for democratically elected institutions emanating from a central state presence.

Traditional authorities themselves were also far from uniform in their perceptions of what future governance in the region should look like, and there appears to be a regional dimension to their responses. The regions of Awainat and Al-Barkat in Ghat municipality have significantly different demographics. Awainat has traditionally been dominated by high-income Tuareg members and noble families, who are considered among the most influential Tuareg families in the country. Al-Barkat is mainly home to lower-income and less influential Tuareg members and families. In Awainat, traditional authorities were optimistic and enthusiastic about their future role, and even suggested they could take on greater responsibilities. A tribal dignitary said, ‘the absence of official authorities, especially in the southern regions, give the traditional authorities a greater chance’ in the future,[382] while the head of a tribal youth council affirmed, ‘we aspire to have a greater role’ in local governance in the future.[383]

Tribal leaders interviewed in Al-Barkat were almost unanimous in their belief that traditional authorities should have a reduced remit in the future. Most leaders called for Libya to become a civil democratic state, based on strong institutions, but when asked what the role of traditional authorities would be within this structure, one sheikh replied, ‘If we want to build a state of civil state institutions, there is no place for traditional authorities.’[384] Another stated there would be ‘no future for traditional authorities’ within such a structure.[385] This notable shift in attitudes could reflect the lesser influence of tribal sheikhs based in Al-Barkat compared to the noble families of Awainat, and their desire to break with the status quo that favours certain tribes. Al-Barkat’s growing stature within Ghat as a focal point for young people to relocate to, in light of its lower living costs, could also influence this sentiment. Ghat’s young population display a stronger desire for civil state institutions, and the vision of the future portrayed by Al-Barkat’s tribal elders reflects this.

In Ubari, perhaps reflecting the urgent need for reconstruction in the town, tribal leaders were more pragmatic about their future role, acknowledging the need to work in partnership with state authorities in order to enact meaningful change. A former deputy member of the SSTC believed that in any forthcoming government, sheikhs and tribal dignitaries must work together to resolve the region’s problems, ‘but what we see now is not even close’.[386] A member of the Council of Elders stressed that in the coming months and years there ‘must be cooperation and coordination with official authorities… because the country is passing through a phase that requires the intensification of efforts from everyone, official and non-official’.[387]

5.4 Recommendations

5.4.1 Traditional authorities in their current form do not represent a long-term governance solution

Traditional authorities have made considerable efforts to fill the governance vacuum in the Fezzan and provide services and administer governance, albeit within their limited resources and traditional frameworks. However, it is important to note that there is little appetite among the population (and arguably among traditional leaders themselves) for traditional authorities to be long-term governors or service providers. Representatives of civil society display a clear desire for elected accountable institutions, and the informal structure through which traditional authorities come to power and subsequently govern does not reflect this. The history of traditional leadership in the Fezzan is also one of unequal and undemocratic power dynamics, highlighted by the relationship between tribal nobles and slaves, and in the modern day many citizens observe that traditional authorities continue to prioritise the interests of their own tribes or families. Furthermore, traditional authorities have, to an extent, always been politicized. The Tuareg have a history of being co-opted and strategically fragmented by the Gaddafi regime, and this phenomenon is still evident today, with various individuals and factions choosing to side with different national actors in an effort to secure resources and influence.

As a final point, it is essential to note that Libyans must be able to construct a governance structure that works for them, incorporating elements that are specific to the Libyan context, and this could be a lengthy process. Traditional authorities in this regard will certainly play a role in future governance, but the current format is likely to be unsustainable.

5.4.2 Traditional authorities can be an entry point to the Fezzan

This study has demonstrated that traditional authorities, despite their shortcomings, are relevant and influential actors in the current reality of Ghat and Ubari, and are praised by many citizens for being more approachable, flexible and efficient than central government. Case studies from the region also illustrate how traditional authorities are vital in order to gain access to particular areas or groups, and to foster connections and dialogue that would otherwise be impossible.

Building on the first recommendation, those seeking to improve local governance in the region must acknowledge that traditional authorities currently play a part, and should therefore seek to incorporate their benefits and expertise. The Fezzan has long been neglected both nationally and internationally, and the lack of state presence in the sparsely populated but resource-rich region means international actors are without points of contact or unaware of local projects. As a precursor to meaningful intervention, traditional authorities could serve as an entry point, given their close ties with local communities, history of mediation, and relatively well-established institutional structures.

5.4.3 Be aware of context

In order to implement effective programmes in the Fezzan, it is imperative to be aware of contextual nuance – at local and national levels. The municipalities of Ghat and Ubari have distinct characteristics formed out of recent experiences. Ghat serves as a Tuareg stronghold, particularly after the fall of the Gaddafi regime and the backlash experienced by the many pro-Gaddafi Tuareg groups. Yet within Ghat there are important distinctions to note: the relatively affluent district of Awainat is home to some of the most powerful and influential Tuareg tribes in the country, whereas residents of the poorer Al-Barkat district are less represented in decision-making circles.

Ubari has been the site of a protracted tribal conflict that was exacerbated by the involvement of external forces and has left the municipality in ruin.

These contextual backgrounds have a strong influence on citizens’ perceptions of local governance, the role of the central state, the role of traditional authorities, and the future of the region. In a wider context, responses from both traditional leaders and civil society representatives in this research point to a sense of subordination within the Fezzan region. This is most evident with the respondents’ portrayal of traditional authorities as go-betweens – entities to represent the community and convey their concerns to a higher power. This portrayal indicates that although there is considerable desire for autonomous local governance, at present there is little motivation for active citizenship. From a national perspective, the longstanding debate over federalism, its controversial accompanying political movement, and the historical distinctions between Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and the Fezzan also entrench sentiments of regional autonomy. Such contextual nuances must be taken into account when working with Ghat and Ubari municipalities in order to promote effective local governance, and the idea of achieving consensus, even at local level, should not be taken for granted.

5.4.4 Identify those who profit from the status quo and integrate them into future plans

At present, any organisation looking to engage in the promotion of local governance in the Fezzan faces an arduous task. They must be prepared to work with divisions at every level – among the population, within municipal offices, and within traditional authorities themselves. Moreover, power and territorial control in the south is currently being derived largely from military or financial clout. This landscape proves hugely challenging for effective governance, as there are various duplicate entities affiliated to Libya’s national warring factions and operating simultaneously. Duplication not only means less efficiency and higher costs, but it also contributes to an overriding sense of confusion and ambiguity, which plays into the hands of certain actors.

Those seeking to intervene must be aware of the powerful and sizable entities within the Fezzan that are profiting from the status quo and striving to maintain it. In this sense certain traditional authorities are complicit, successfully maintaining multiple allegiances with rival governments and armed actors in order to preserve their current status. In order to bring about a change in circumstances that benefits the many rather than the few who are currently prospering, it is essential to engage with those profiting from the status quo and identify future roles and opportunities that could integrate them into a more inclusive future. The disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of armed groups is central to this, but any actor (traditional or otherwise) prospering in the current climate who is not consulted and factored into future plans will seek to maintain the status quo. It is particularly difficult for international organisations to work with unofficial authorities such as tribes or armed groups due to ethical and political sensitivities, but any attempt to change the status quo without understanding what this long-term engagement implies is not sensitive to current conflicts.

5.4.5 It is essential to lay the groundwork for functioning institutions

To date, decentralisation in Libya has been poorly implemented and resourced, and therefore this recommendation is particularly difficult to achieve. However, it remains imperative that elected local institutions in the Fezzan operate effectively. The local governance law 59 of 2012 was passed in response to a strong message from communities, namely that they sought greater local autonomy following decades of centralised rule.[388] The findings of this research indicate that such a sentiment remains popular in the Fezzan, despite citizens’ initial experiences with municipal councils over the past seven years being hugely disappointing.

In order to ensure a more effective relationship between citizens and their municipality in the Fezzan, it is first essential to lay the foundations for good governance in the region. The municipalities of Ghat and Ubari are in severe need of infrastructure in order to provide basic services, and until such investment is made any authority will struggle to govern effectively. Younger members of the community in particular are susceptible to illicit activities and militarisation, and greater investment and attention is required to provide sustainable, legal employment avenues. Second, it is important to remember that local governance via direct democracy is a relatively nascent concept in the region, and many residents are unaware of the exact roles and responsibilities of their elected institutions and officials. Efforts should be made to raise awareness and strengthen the influence of the population via inclusive dialogue and practical pilot projects managed by local communities and their representatives, to further develop locally supported governance structures and solutions.

Libya has historically been divided into three regions: Tripolitania, encompassing the north-west of the country and its modern-day capital, Tripoli; Cyrenaica in the east; and the Fezzan in the south.
Daragahi, B. 2014. ‘Libya’s badlands’, Financial Times, link (accessed 12 September 2019).
Respondent #18, Scientific affairs officer, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #38, Traditional authority, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
In reality, Gaddafi relied heavily on tribal connections with traditional authorities during his reign, but largely to maintain stability and quell unrest rather than to administer local governance. Such sentiments thus also reflect a tone of bias towards the Gaddafi regime, borne out of the enduring fondness of prominent Tuareg figures for a former era that empowered them individually.
Respondent #19, Former high-ranking civil servant, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Libya’s Interim National Transitional Council. 2012. Law No. 59 of 2012 concerning the Local Administration System, link (accessed 12 September 2019).
Murray, R. 2017. Southern Libya Destabilized: The case of Ubari, SANA Briefing Paper, Small Arms Survey, Security Assessment in North Africa.
Respondent #31, Former SSTC member, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #10, Tribe sheikh, Awainat
Murray, R. 2017. Southern Libya Destabilized: The case of Ubari, SANA Briefing Paper, Small Arms Survey, Security Assessment in North Africa.
Respondent #19, Former mayor, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #34, Former civil servant, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #35, Tribal dignitary, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #40, Former mokhtar, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #37, Traditional authority, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #33, Council of Elders member, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #38, Council of Elders member, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #36, Muezzin, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019. NB People tend to resort to religious authorities for assistance in ‘social issues’ that require a religious edict, and this can often bring them into direct contact, cooperation, or conflict with other traditional authorities.
Respondent #20, Tebu women’s rights activist, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #23, Ubari Youth League representative, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #24, Women’s education activist, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #22, Tebu civil society activist, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Eriksson, M. and Bohman, E. 2018. The Second Libyan Civil War – Security Developments during 2016-2017, Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), Ministry of Defence.
Murray, R. 2017. op. cit.
Respondent #21, Education supervisor, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #16, School principal, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Focus Group (Youth), Ghat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Focus Group (Elderly), Ghat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #33, Council of Elders member, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #39, Tribe member, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Lebovich, A. 2019. Mapping armed groups in Mali and the Sahel, link. (accessed 9 September 2019).
Lacher, W. 2018. ‘Tripoli’s militia cartel – how ill-conceived stabilisation blocks political progress, and risks renewed war’, SWP Comment, 20.
Lebovich, A. 2019. op. cit.
Westcott, T. 2019. ‘Feuding tribes unite as new civil war looms in Libya’s south’, Middle East Eye, link (accessed 12 September 2019).
Adel, J. 2019. ‘Tensions rise in south as multiplicity of forces enter the power play’, Libya Herald, link (accessed 12 September 2019).
Focus Group (Women, Youth, Elderly), Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #17, Rebel commander, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #12, Tribe sheikh, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Phone interview with a member of the Relation Committee of the SSTC, name disclosed, 17 July 2019.
Stocker, V. 2014. ‘Inside Libya’s wild west’, Issue in Focus, Atlantic Council and Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.
‘المجلس الأعلى لطوارق ليبيا يعلن تسليم كافة المؤسسات في اوباري للقيادة العامة’ (Translated from Arabic: The Supreme Council of the Tuareg in Libya announces the handover of all institutions in Ubari to the General Command), 2019. Al-Marsad, link المجلس-الأعلى-لطوارق-ليبيا-يعلن-تسليم / (accessed 12 September 2019).
Respondent #33, Council of Elders member, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #38, Council of Elders member, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #25, Former deputy mayor, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #36, Muezzin, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #43, Football team president, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Alunni, A., Calder, M. and Kappler, S. 2018. Enduring social institutions and civil society peacebuilding in Libya and Syria, British Council.
Tabib, R. 2016. ‘Mobilized publics in Post-Qadhafi Libya: the emergence of new modes of popular protest in Tripoli and Ubari’, Mediterranean Politics, 21 (1), 86–106.
This is a recurring theme in previous studies of traditional authorities and rural youth. Richards details young people feeling unfairly treated and marginalised by tribal elders in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and draws the connection with high levels of rural youth recruitment into armed factions, see: Richards, P. 2005. ‘To fight or to farm? Agrarian dimensions of the Mano River conflicts (Liberia and Sierra Leone)’, African Affairs, 104(417), 571–90.
Alunni, A., Calder, M. and Kappler, S. 2018. op. cit.
Focus Group (Youth), Ghat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Focus Group (Elderly), Ghat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Focus Group (Women), Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Focus Group (Women), Ghat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Focus Group (Women), Ghat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Focus Group (Youth), Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Focus Group (Education professionals), Ghat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Participants were selected on the basis of age, location, gender, tribal and political affiliation in an effort to achieve a representative sample of governance views in Ghat and Ubari.
Zaptia, S. 2019. ‘Ghat flooding causes deaths and more than 1,000 displaced’, Libya Herald, link (accessed 12 September 2019).
Respondent #20, Female Tebu activist, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #21, Education professional, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #37, Tribal dignitary, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #42, Head of a tribal youth council, Awainat, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #44, Tribe sheikh, Awainat, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #45, Tribe sheikh, Al-Barkat, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #31, Former SSTC deputy member, Ubari, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
Respondent #29, Member of the Council of Elders, Awainat, Ubari, Fezzan Region, March-June 2019.
UNDP. 2015. Rapid Diagnostic of Local Governance and Local Development in Libya, link (accessed 12 September 2019).