Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageCriticism of new Libyan Government of National Accord grows

By Ken Hanly     Jan 24, 2016 in Politics
Tobruk - The internationally-recognized House of Representatives (HoR) based in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk has only a few more days to give a vote of confidence in the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA).
While the GNA formation has been announced, although 48 hours after a deadline, it is facing increasing opposition with two members of the senior body of the nine-member Presidency Council not signing and suspending their membership in the body. The rival General National Congress government has not accepted the GNA either. Some of the problems with the GNA and its 32-member cabinet are outlined in a critique by Omar Al-Aswad, one of two members who did not sign.
He accused other members of the Council of acting dishonestly, and of moral and political corruption. He also claimed that not only was the government too big but the members were chosen on the basis of cronyism not competence. When the Council had originally failed to meet the deadline for announcing the GNA, Al-Aswad had proposed that there be a smaller government of just 10 ministers. Al-Aswad claimed everyone accepted that proposal and they were to meet the next day to chose the names. He also claimed that each of the Council's nine members would get to nominate a specific minister with the Prime Minister designate Faiez Serraj nominating the tenth as well, the finance minister.
Al-Aswad continued: “The next day, very early in the morning, I received a phone call telling me that the two members had not slept all night and had created a new government with 24 ministries. I waited to be sure of the news. I waited till midday and did not take any calls. I then went to the meeting hall and found no one there. Then I realised that there was truth in the phone call.” At around 6.30pm, he added, “I got a call to come to the meeting. Serraj was not there but everyone else was, except [Ali] Gatrani who had suspended his membership the night before for different reasons.”
Al-Aswad went to meet Serraj and demanded that the Council return to its earlier decision or begin the process over again. He also demanded to know who had changed the plan and why. He then said Serraj could call him to go to the meeting before midnight or he would suspend his membership. He received no call. Al-Aswad had objected when two members suggested a cabinet of 24 members. But the actual number was much larger at 32. Some ministries were divided with the foreign ministry now having three divisions. Al-Aswad notes: There had, moreover, been clear cronyism in the choice of some ministers. “One ministry was given to the office manager of a member of the Presidency Council. Another of his staff was given a separate ministry.” Five ministries were given to relatives of Presidency Council members..
The other official who resigned was Ali Al-Gitrani , a deputy minister from the east and a strong supporter of General Khalifa Haftar, the commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) of the HoR. He was concerned that there were insufficient guarantees that Haftar would keep his job when the GNA term began after a vote of confidence in the HoR. An additional section of Article 8 of the LPA gave the Presidency Council the function of commander in chief of the Libyan National Army immediately upon the signing. The document was signed on December 17th. This section has been completely ignored with Haftar carrying on as if the section did not exist. The mainstream press seems not to take the slightest interest in or even notice this requirement. Al-Gatrani no doubt worried that when the GNA term actually began, after the vote of confidence by the HoR, the GNA might actually carry out its obligations under Section 8.
In eastern Libya, there are now serious divisions developing between those who strongly support Haftar and those who oppose him. His spokesperson, Colonel Mohamed Hejazi, recently turned against him and launched a vicious attack against Haftar on TV, accusing him of a litany of crimes. Some parts of the armed forces and the head of the militia guarding the oil pipelines support Hejazi in his attacks. However, Haftar appears to still be firmly in place as commander with demonstrations in his favor breaking out in Benghazi. Unfortunately, for UN envoy Kobler who brokered the GNA formation, Hejazi does not support the GNA either and is critical of it as well as Haftar.
In another development, a group of elders from the eastern area of Cyrenaica met with Haftar at his headquarters in Marj and told him they reject the Serraj government. They said they support Haftar's fight against terrorism and want a "Libya-Libya" dialogue that would lead to peace and security within Libya. Haftar would not favor a dialogue that included the GNC since he regards them as Islamists to be defeated by his Operation Dignity begun back in May of 2014 and arguably the beginning of the present conflict between rival governments. Along with the elders, were a number of members of the HoR and of the government of prime minister Al-Thinni and even some delegates from the Tebu and Tuareg communities in the south. In total, this is a significant group who will not allow a vote of confidence in the GNA within the HoR. Again Haftar announced that he would liberate Benghazi from Islamists. He has made such announcements many times in the past. While he has regained much of the city after losing almost all of it at one time, he still faces significant pockets of resistance. Parts of the city are virtually uninhabitable and completely destroyed by the battles.
Haftar has obviously learned something from observing Kobler and the UN. If a fact is damaging or goes against one's narrative just ignore it. Kobler says nothing about the divisions in the east or about when he might be able to get the HoR to pass a vote of confidence in the GNA. He is busy promoting more support and cheerleading for the GNA. Haftar, for his part, simply ignores the charges against him of his former spokesperson Hejazi. Instead, he predicts success for his battle against Islamists in Benghazi and is gathering a formidable group of opponents to the GNA.
More about GNA, Libya political agreement, Khalifa Haftar
More news from