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article imageOp-Ed: HoR president calls for a vote on new Libyan government

By Ken Hanly     May 17, 2016 in Politics
Tobruk - The president and speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives(HoR), Ageela Salah, has called on all members of the HoR to come to a session in Tobruk as soon as possible.
This has happened before. Every time a meeting has been called there has been no quorum or the session has been disrupted and no vote taken. According to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in Skhirat, Morocco, on December 17 last year, the HoR must vote confidence in the GNA before its term starts. It must also amend the constitutional declaration of 2011 to incorporate the GNA in the constitution.
Neither event has happened. The special representative of the secretary general (SRSG), Martin Kobler, called together members of the Political Dialogue after no vote was taken. A letter, allegedly from a majority of the HoR, supports the GNA in principle and the discussions in the Dialogue group were taken as a green light to activate the GNA and move the presidential council to Tripoli. Later the Sate Council was activated as well.
The HoR is to become the legislature of the GNA. The GNA and the UN hence need the vote of approval still in order to have a legislature and also to try and bring the HoR on board the GNA bandwagon. They also hope to somehow convince commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar and his supporters to join the GNA.
Salah issued his call in a video released by his media office. He warned members that if the Presidency Council did not show up in Tobruk to present the GNA government to the HoR there would be no vote and the PC would be dismissed. It is not clear that the security situation will even allow for the PC to appear in Tobruk. The atmosphere could be toxic. GIven that Salah is already sanctioned by the US and the EU, it is not too likely that the GNA will take orders from him. Salah demanded that the PC bring the CVs of proposed ministers. Salah said: “If some members of the Presidency Council refuse to attend it means they don’t recognise us. In this case, we cannot approve a government."
Salah said that there should also be a vote amending the 2011 Constitutional Declaration first. He also demanded that the LPA be changed so that the HoR could be the only body that could appoint the heads of sovereign institutions such as the governor of the Central Bank of Libya: At present, the LPA states that the appointment of heads of sovereign institutions is to be done by the HoR and the State Council together although after the initial appointment, they can be removed and new appointments made by the HoR alone, but by a two-thirds majority. Salah also said the HoR would review the performance of the Libya Dialogue Committee and that some of its members could be replaced.
Salah's announcement comes after he had a meeting with his two deputies, Emhemed Shouaib and Ahmaid Huma designed to break the GNA deadlock. The two have been spearheading attempts by those supporting the GNA in principle to have a vote of confidence. Near the end of April members of the HoR went to Ghadames to arrange a meeting there of HoR members who would vote for the GNA. The meeting was never held. There has been no explanation as to why it did not take place.
The Libya Herald questions the sincerity of Salah, claiming that he knows that the Presidency Council members will not all turn up in Tobruk. One, Ahmed Maeitiq has specifically said he will not go to Tobruk for security reasons. The Herald could have added that Salah must know that any amendments to the LPA were long ago ruled out by Martin Kobler the UN representative who helped have the LPA signed in Skhirat. The Herald concludes: Known to be opposed to the new government led by Faiez Serraj, he is under great pressure to find a solution. He has been sanctioned by both the US and the EU who accuse him of deliberately preventing a session to debate the GNA and the LPA from taking place. He also faces the prospect of the HoR splitting, with the majority of members setting themselves up in Tripoli and probably voting to sack him.
The Herald also notes that there may not be sufficient members present to amend the Constitutional Declaration and so the process would be stalled if it took place first. But it should since unless it is in the constitution the GNA would lack legal legitimacy. This has never bothered the UN or the many countries cheer leading for the GNA. They all will mouth support for the rule of law. The Herald suggests that "Events have in any case moved on with the Presidency Council’s announcement today that it was activating the GNA." Events may have moved on but Haftar is still there opposed to the GNA and no doubt the largest and most efficient military forces in Libya. Salah has gone off to Cairo to consult with some of those who count but do not accept all of the recent Vienna decisions as this tweet notes: "#Aguila_Salah Refused invitation to #Veintna meeting but traveled immediately to #Cairo."
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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