“Ready to lead next transitional phase by presiding a unified government that will oversee elections in Libya.” Interview with the mayor of Zliten Muftah Al-Taher Hammadi

By Vanessa Tomassini.

“My main future interest is to lead the current transition phase by presiding over a unified government that will oversee the elections and contribute to the establishment of a permanent phase in Libya.” The mayor of Zliten, Muftah Al-Taher Hammadi, tell us in this exclusive conversation. Zliten is a coastal city in Tripolitania, between Misrata and Al-Khums, about 160 km from the Libyan capital. Considered one of the “cities of saints” in Libya, Zliten was the home of Sidi Abdulsalam Al Asmar, one of the best known and respected religious saints in the whole country. The city has recently experienced rapid development in terms of progress and services to the citizen, thanks to the efforts of its citizens and the foresight of its tireless mayor, Muftah Al-Taher Hammadi, an example of good local administration that could be of success if extended to the whole country.

Mr mayor, first of all let me thank you for accepting this interview. Please help me to introduce yourself.

“My name is Muftah Al-Taher Hammadi, age 43, I come from an average family, from a well-known family and tribe. I finished my primary and secondary studies in the city of Zliten, then I joined the Faculty of Engineering and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 2003. I completed my postgraduate studies at the Odessa Academy in the city of Odessa, Ukraine, and obtained a master’s degree in concrete. I held several positions, including director of the Higher Institute of Engineering Technologies for two years, then ran for the Zliten Municipal Council elections in 2014 and won one of the seats, then I was elected by the council as mayor of Zliten municipality, and my term continued until the beginning of 2021, and I ran for the second term heading an electoral list that won the elections and was elected mayor of the municipality of Zliten for a second term, which continues until now”.

The municipality of Zliten has made many progresses towards development, especially in providing services to citizens. What are your main priorities as mayor and which are the main projects you realized up to now?

“From the beginning, there were two main axes to work on. The first is an attempt to provide services to the citizen and solve the bottlenecks that face this, and work to develop services and improve their quality, especially in the health, education and security sectors. We have achieved many goals, including the development of the Zliten Medical Center and the development of many medical departments in it, and we were able to introduce many medical services for the first time in the region, and the center is currently serving citizens in the entire central region, as well as the education sector, where we dealt with the problem of demolished educational buildings as a result of the liberation war, and we established more than 15 educational buildings ready, including a school, an institute, and a college. We also supported schools and educational institutions and launched many maintenance projects of educational buildings, including the maintenance of 10 buildings, and there are 10 other buildings in the process of completion, and we supported the Security Directorate and the official security services, and we were able to significantly improve the security environment and security situation, creating stability and contributing concretely to development, as well as for the rest of the sectors. We were also able to reduce the gap in services resulting from weakness in the central governments as a result of the conditions that Libya is going through, and we had a role in managing the crises that the city went through, such as the terrorist bombing of January 7 and its disastrous effects, as well as the crises resulting from wars, the resulting displaced people and living conditions that need to be addressed. The second very important axis is to work on a future vision for the city, which was accomplished through the ‘Zliten 2030 vision’, based on a set of strategic projects that depend mostly on investment and partnership with the private sector”.

What are the main challenges in terms of security in Zliten and in Western Libya in general?

“There are many challenges, including the proliferation of weapons and the collapse of security, police and military institutions, as well as political instability, political and institutional divisions, and the reliance in the policies of some governments on security and military bodies generated tensions and violations of generally accepted security and military standards”.

How do you evaluate the work done by the Government of National Unity?

“The government of national unity has made significant achievements in the field of local governance and local administration, as it worked to transfer the competencies stipulated in the local administration laws from the central ministries to the municipalities.”

Towards elections, do you think it is necessary to have a new unified executive?

“Certainly, we need a unified executive body that enjoys the confidence of all. Its only task should be supervising the elections and prepare all conditions for their success. Members of this executive body undertake not to run for the upcoming elections, and there should be specific and clear guarantees for that.”

According to your experience, which steps still needed to have a fair and transparent electoral process in Libya?

“As we said, first of all, it is necessary unifying the executive body in one government that enjoys the confidence of all, secondly fair and impartial electoral laws that guarantee equal opportunities for candidacy and fair competition for all candidates with fairness and transparency”.

What do you think of the work done by the committee 6+6 on electoral laws?

“All thanks and appreciation to this committee for its efforts and the agreement reached by the committee is a very acceptable one in light of the current circumstances. It is considered a cornerstone upon which the rest of the steps to achieve the appropriate environment for the elections should be completed”.

Given the great results achieved as mayor, are you going to candidate yourself as Prime Minister for the next stage?

“Through my work in the past years in public affairs, and as I own an integrated project, I certainly look forward to participating in any electoral events during the coming years.”

What are your main concerns for the coming future?

“My main future interest is to lead the current transitional phase by chairing a unified government that will supervise the elections and contribute to the establishment of a permanent phase.”

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