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article imageOp-Ed: Libya Supreme Court rules elections and new government illegal

By Ken Hanly     Nov 6, 2014 in Politics
Tripoli - As if things could not become even more unsettled in Libya, the Libyan Supreme Court has just announced that the internationally recognized and UN-backed government is dissolved and the June elections declared illegitimate.
The elected government moved to the eastern city of Tobruk. It was supposed to convene in Benghazi in August but Benghazi was by then under the control of a umbrella group of Islamist-oriented militias and so was moved to a luxury hotel and a Greek ferry in Tobruk, where the CIA-linked General Haftar could protect them. After all, it would not do to have the new parliament supposedly dominated by anti-Islamists to be attacked and burned, as had happened to the former parliament — which was attacked by Haftar's allies the Zintan brigades as part of his Operation Dignity. A number of Islamists who were elected boycotted the new parliament.
A coalition of Islamists have now taken control not only of Benghazi but also Tripoli. They reconvened the General National Council and appointed their own prime minister who then formed a competing government to that in Tobruk. The ruling came after a member of the Tripoli parliament asked the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the vote on June 25th in Libya. The vote led to the creation of a government by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni. He had also been prime minister when the parliament was stormed and burned by allies of General Haftar. At the time he noted that there was a warrant out for Haftar's arrest and he claimed that the attack was illegal and an attempted coup. Now Al-Thinni's government supports Haftar and his Operation Dignity and supposedly Haftar's militia are just part of the Libyan armed forces.
LANA news agency reported that "The Constitutional Circuit in the Supreme Court has ruled on Thursday to accept the appeal concerning the illegality of developments leading to the elections,. Al Jazeera reporter Mahmoud Abdul-Wahed said that this court ruling means that the present al-Thinni government is unconstitutional. The UN is claiming that it will closely study the decision and also talk with "Libyan stakeholders across the political spectrum, and with international partners." The UN also says that is will continue to work with all parties to help Libya overcome the present political and security crisis.
So far the UN position is that it will talk to everyone except those who count, the two competing groups of militias and the alternative government in Tripoli. Not surprisingly, the talks so far seem to have achieved little or nothing. The Supreme Court decision may have a positive effect in that now the UN can claim that it should talk to figures in the rival government.
While the legislature in Tobruk has called an emergency meeting to discuss the verdict, one can expect that it will be dismissed out of hand. Issam al-Jehani, a Tobruk-based parliamentarian said on Facebook: "Lawmakers will not recognise a verdict decided under the gun,"
The prime minister of the rival government Omar al-Hassi called for new elections in a recent interview saying: "We need new elections, This parliament is no longer accepted in Libya. It has lost its legitimacy. We need new elections, The poll must take place under the supervision of (elected) local councils." Al-Hassi claims to be an independent. He describes the present conflict as between "enemies of the revolution" against "revolutionaries". Haftar describes his opponents as Islamist terrorists.
Al-Hassi's proposals do provide a possible political way out of the crisis, although one fraught with difficulties. It would require Haftar's militias, now the Libyan army, and his Islamist militia foes to agree to a ceasefire, an unlikely scenario. It would require too that the militia leaders accept the results of the political process. In any event elections are unlikely. The more likely scenario is that important power brokers such as Egypt and the UAE with the tacit support of the US and its allies will support the Al-Thinni government in Tobruk and provide aid and training for the Libyan army which is now in effect just an add-on to Haftar's militias. The Libyan situation narrative will be about the war on terror and combatting militant jihadists such as those in Anshar al-Sharia the group alleged to be behind that attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. Haftar will be touted as a military leader who can do for Libya what President el-Sisi did for Egypt, turn it into a repressive regime just as bad if not worse than that of Mubarak but having the support of the west and allies such as Saudi Arabia by jailing members of unapproved Islamist groups who will be designated terrorists.
As shown on the appended video an earlier decision by the Supreme Court that the election of an Islamist-supported prime minister was illegitimate was accepted by the Islamists and the person who lost out in the decision. I doubt that the same acceptance will now come from the government of Al-Thinni in Tobruk.
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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