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article imageOp-Ed: Speaker of Libyan HoR critical of PC demand to halt attack on IS

By Ken Hanly     Apr 30, 2016 in Politics
Ghadames - Ageelah Saleh, speaker of the House of Representatives, based in Tobruk, has criticized the recent statement of the Presidential Council of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA).
Ageelah Saleh, speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) was critical of the demand by the Presidential Council (PC) of the GNA that all those in the process of launching an attack on the Islamic State should stop until the PC set up a unified command. The statement maintained that a violation of the order would violate military law. The Misrata militia which were advancing towards Sirte from the west obeyed the demand. However, it is not clear what response Khalifa Haftar will make. He is advancing towards Sirte with a large convoy and other units of the LNA are coming from the south-east as well.
Saleh claims that the PC statement aggravates the divisions within Libya as well as violating the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). it also casts aspersions on the patriotism of the Libyan National Army (LNA). The statement also makes it more difficult for the 6 plus 6 committee to come to an agreement on approving the GNA. The 6 plus 6 committee was set up after the last failure to vote on the GNA. It is composed of six opposed to passing the GNA and six in favor of passing it.
Saleh also objected to the PC claiming it was the commander in chief of the LNA as set out in section 8 of the Libyan Political Agreement. From Saleh's point of view, all of the decisions of the PC are illegitimate since the LPA has not yet been formally endorsed by the HoR, nor has there been a constitutional amendment to include the GNA in the constitution. According to the Libya Observer: Aqilah regarded the PC’s statement as an excuse against the pro-agreement HoR members as they agreed to remove article (08) from the appendix rules of the Skhirat agreement that strips HoR members of the title “Chief Commander” and gives it to he PC. However, despite the removal, the PC is working as unconstitutionally as before and is claiming the title based upon the statement issued by those HoR members. Ageela ignores the fact that the HoR does not have the power to remove article 8 from the LPA so it is not removed. The PC are correct to make their claim. What is surprising is that the section 8 in the additional provisions, not the "appendix rules," applied once the agreement was signed on December 17. Obviously the PC and the GNA and Kobler paid no attention to that fact until now. This perhaps shows the increasing power of those opposed to Haftar in the GNA.
Saleh also complained that Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Martin Kobler, went beyond his job as UN mediator to intervene in the domestic affairs of Libya. He has repeatedly taken sides with certain UN agreement parties over others. For some time, now Kobler has explicitly said that his job is to strengthen the GNA and garner support for it. He claims the time for talk and negotiations is over. He claims the GNA is the only way forward and does not pretend to be a mediator any more.
Preparations are under way to hold a meeting of those members of the HoR who support the GNA to meet in Ghadames in the extreme west of Libya in order to approve the GNA and amend the constitutional declaration of 2011. Even if this meeting votes confidence in the GNA, those in favor of the GNA also want Section 8 deleted. Haftar's status as commander in chief of the LNA is not likely to be solved simply by an acceptance in principle by members of the HoR. There could be immediate conflict within the GNA as to whether Haftar remains in his position.
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
More about Libyan House of Representatives, Libyan Government of National Accord, Ageela Salah
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