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article imageOp-Ed: Libyan PM of unity government Serraj gives keynote speech on TV

By Ken Hanly     Apr 29, 2016 in Politics
Tripoli - In a pre-recorded TV address, Faiez Serraj, PM-designate of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA), gave a mainly upbeat talk about the progress of the GNA in Tripoli.
Almost a month after his entry into Tripoli, Serraj noted that the entry was peaceful and without any bloodshed. He outlined the achievements and plans of the Presidential Council and the GNA. The GNA so far consists of some but not all members of the Presidential Council headquartered at the Bu Sitta Naval Base in Tripoli. The State Council, a mainly advisory body, composed of former members of the rival General National Congress (GNC), parliament has been formed and has occupied the former headquarters of the GNC. As yet the GNA has no legislature because there has been no formal vote on the GNA by the House of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk. The HoR does not recognize the GNA as yet. The Libya Herald reports Serraj as saying that the HoR should "complete its commitment as the only legitimate legislature in the country," referring to its failure to vote on the GNA. There have been numerous meetings of the HoR to vote on the GNA but all have been without a quorum or have been disrupted with no vote taking place.
There has been talk of the HoR convening in another location. This happened before but no meeting took place outside of Tobruk. This time some members are already gather at Ghadames according to a recent tweet: "‏@LibyaschannelEN #HoR members arriving in #Ghadames. MP Salah Zubik told us 2 days ago that #GNA vote is scheduled for next Wednesday."
Serraj claimed that the PC and Council were "working tirelessly to complete the commitments of the Libya Political Agreement and that the time for talk and argumentation was over." Given the actions of the HoR government under PM al-Thinni and commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar, Serraj may be forced into more talks.
The eastern government tried to illegally export oil through the breakaway eastern branch of the National Oil Company(NOC). The Indian-flagged tanker Distya Ameya was unable to dock in Malta and appears now to be headed back to the GNA-controlled port of Zawiya in western Libya, according to Nagi al-Maghrabi, who chairs the eastern-based NOC. He said the situation was "a legal issue and we will work on it" and that he would continue to fight for the right of the eastern-based NOC to export oil. While the GNA is likely to be able to win on this issue, another conflict with the east and Haftar may be more difficult and the GNA may not win. As with many opponents of Haftar and commentators, Serraj cannot bring himself to use his name. It does not appear in his article.
Haftar has been moving towards Sirte to liberate it along with other units of the LNA from the south-east: Serraj said that they have called upon the GNA’s defence minister to put in place a plan and form a unified command that includes all forces from all over Libya to liberate Sirte from IS, scuppering separate plans by the various forces to act unilaterally. It is not clear that a mere announcement by the GNA will "scupper plans" of Haftar and his forces and the HoR government. The GNA may need force or the threat of force to bring Haftar on board. Alternatively, he may need to talk to him, even though the time for talk is supposed to be over.
The Libya Observer also remarks on Haftar's move toward's Sirte and says it is seen as political opportunism. The Observer describes the response of the GNA's PC to the issue: The Presidential Council (PC) of the UN-proposed government has called on all military forces to wait for the appointment of a joint leadership for the liberation of Sirte from IS, asking them all to unite under the command of the PC as being the Chief Commander of Army according to Skhirat agreement. Finally after months, the PC notices that it is the Commander in Chief of the Army according to the political agreement. Up until now they have not noticed that in fact Khalifa Haftar continues to play that role and he has not indicated he is about to go back into retirement.
Serraj says that he will not allow the battle for liberation of Sirte to be used for political leverage or personal gain. Of course, Serraj and the PC have decided that their own political leverage and their control of the military is more important than the liberation of Sirte, otherwise they would welcome Haftar's move and immediately seek cooperation and coordination.
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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