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article imageOp-Ed: Former Libyan Salvation government tries to mount a coup

By Ken Hanly     Oct 14, 2016 in World
Tripoli - Former members of the General National Council's (GNC) Government, as it called itself, including the former prime minister, Khalifa al-Ghwell have taken over their former headquarters in the Rixos Hotel and announced they are in power again.
Ghwell issued a statement declaring a state of emergency and claiming that this was a "historical initiative to rescue Libya". Both the Rixos Conference Center and the "Hospitality Palaces" across the road were taken over last April by the State Council by militia who were then loyal to the GNA. The pro-GNC militia withdrew to avoid bloodshed. The State Council actually pulled out of the headquarters a couple of days ago citing security issues. Apparently, the militia guarding the Council were harassing members. According to the Libyan Express: The Head of the Libyan High Council of State, Abdelrahman Al-Sweihli, ordered Monday the headquarters of the council be evacuated from all members and employees over recurrent violations and assaults perpetrated by the security guards, who are appointed to protect those members and employees. Recently, the Council declared that it was the legislature of the the Government of National Accord (GNA) since the House of Representatives (HoR) had not recognized the GNA.
The takeover began early in the morning with a confrontation between gunmen who supported the GNC and some linked to Sweihli but ended with the latter withdrawing. The militia guarding the council were already angry since their salaries were yet to be paid. They apparently had threatened to quit and were in contact with al-Ghwell supporters which is apparently the reason they decided to withdraw.
Al-Ghwell accompanied by the GNC first deputy president Awad Saddeq and head of the GNC presidential guard Ali Ramali, called on PM Abdullah al-Thinni of the HoR government, a rival to that of the GNA, to join them and together form a national unity government. This would completely avoid implementing the Libya Political Agreement and ignore the existence of the GNA.
Al-Ghwell claimed that the GNA and Presidency Council(PC) were undermining national unity and were the pawn of foreign forces who wanted to divide the country. All governmental organizations and ministries were ordered to stop dealing with the PC and GNA and to work with him instead. He also said that all those appointed by the PC were dismissed. It is quite unlikely that Al-Ghwell has the power to carry out his announcements. Most of the former GNC members are now members of the High State Council. It is not clear how many militia still support the GNC.
As of writing this article, there has been no statement on what has happened by the State Council, the PC or the UN. There is no comment yet either from the east and the HoR. A couple of weeks ago, there were also proposals that the former GNC and HoR administrations should create a government of national unity. The Grand Mufti Sadek Al-Ghariani was apparently aware of al-Ghwell's moves and approved them. A TV station associated with Al-Ghariani was the only one which attended a press conference given by al-Ghwell. The Mufti is an opponent of Marshal Khalifa Haftar of the HoR. It is unlikely that he will favor what is happening. Neither will the PC or UN special envoy Martin Kobler since the unity government planned would replace the GNA.
The Libya Prospect reports Al-Ghwell as saying after he entered his headquarters: “what we see nowadays is a result of agendas and conspiracies against the homeland.” He said that Libyan war commanders "brought us to where we are, and they are influencing the council of Skhirat, which is supported to destroy the nation". Skhirat is where the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) was signed. He said that the PC which was part of the LPA had divided Libya and was becoming a threat to national security. He called on the HoR government to participate with the GNC in forming a unity government. Al-Ghwell said that he had asked the armed battalions of the general presidency to be ready to deter enemies of the nation. It is not clear how many fighters Al-Ghwell can muster. We will no doubt find out within the next few days.
There have been many tweets on the takeover. Here is a typical tweet:
"BREAKING: Former Tripoli (Salvation) government declares UN-backed government State Council void, captures it's Tripoli HQ."
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 DigitalJournal.com
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