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article imageOp-Ed: Libyan Presidential Guards support coup in Libya

By Ken Hanly     Oct 16, 2016 in Politics
Tripoli - The attempted coup by some members of the General National Council and Salvation Government is still ongoing after two days. There have been some clashes in Tripoli but the city was mostly calm by nightfall.
The coup leaders took over the Roxios Hotel and "Hospitality Houses" across the road. The buildings were the headquarters of the State Council of the Government of National Accord (GNA) which had seized them some time ago from the Salvation Government. The Salvation Government although still existing had its ministries taken over by the GNA.
The coup was immediately condemned by the UN, the GNA its Presidency Council (PC) the EU and the U.S. However, the rival government of the GNA the Al-Thinni House of Representatives (HoR) government had a less negative response. The coup leaders were probably hoping for a dialogue with some members of the HoR in the hopes of agreeing on a unity government.
The Libya Herald suggests that PM Al-Thinni had effectively rejected calls by coup leader Khalifa Ghwell for a joint government. Al-Thinni insists that Ghwell had to accept the HoR as the sole legitimate legislature. The Herald claims that Ghwell would reject this and also that Ghwell is not in any situation to ditch the former members of the GNC who are now members of the High State Council of the GNA. However, Ghwell declared the Council void and the coup members the only legitimate power. He has in fact ditched them. In fact, the members who originally joined the Council in effect ditched the other members of the GNC who have now carried out the attempted coup. The Herald in the past often opposed the Salvation government.
In a statement, the HoR government suggested it would investigate Ghwell's offer. One HoR member from Benghazi, Ziyad Daghim, a leader of a bloc strongly opposed to the Libya Political Agreement (LPA) and GNA welcomed the invitation. The Herald reports that Ghwell proposed the idea of a joint government with the GNC last month but Al-Thinni was said to reject the idea because he was not proposed as prime minister.
Although the Tripoli attorney general issued an arrest warrant for the people who took part in the coup the group still holds the buildings they seized. Today the Presidential Guard tasked with protecting the GNA are reportedly now supporting and helping guard the coup members. The Libyan Express reports: The Presidential Guard of the Government of National Accord has announced in a TV statement Sunday evening its defection from The GNA and says it now backs up the only legitimate and constitutional government, which is the Salvation Government of the General National Congress.
The Presidential Guard spokesperson said in a TV statement from the Roxio headquarters that the LPA signed in Skhirat was not the right thing and had failed to provide for the Libyan people. The statement went on: The UN-brokered political agreement and GNA was put forth in order to establish a place for Khalifa Haftar and enable him to rule Libya by force.” The statement added that “honorable revolutionaries must be ready to work with the Presidential Guard to protect the only legitimate government the GNC’s Salvation Government and to secure the capital, Tripoli, from all the misdeeds of the illegal armed forces."
Some commentators found it hard to believe that the Presidential Guards of the GNA switched sides tweeting that there must be two sets of Presidential Guards now, one group supporting the Salvation Government coup and the other supporting the GNA. However, the statement on TV seems to show this is not the case. This new development shows the GNA to lack even the power to defeat a coup launched by the few remaining members of the GNC who were left after the formation of the State High Council.
There have been clashes today in Tripoli and the Libya Observer reports that a woman was killed and six wounded when "indiscriminate shells" fell on a Tawerga internally displaced persons (IDP) camp. Security has been strengthened around the headquarters of the coup at the Rixos hotel. We will soon see if there are any militia loyal to the GNA who will attempt to end the coup.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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