Op-Ed: Boycotting member of Libyan PC demands Tobruk govt vote on GNA

Posted May 1, 2016 by Ken Hanly
Omar Aswad, a boycotting member of the Presidency Council, is demanding that president and speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR) arrange a "transparent" session of the HOR to debate the issue of the Government of National Accord (GNA).
A special session of the internationally-recognised parliament  to be held in the eastern city of To...
A special session of the internationally-recognised parliament, to be held in the eastern city of Tobruk, failed to take place because of "big differences," MPs tell AFP
Abdullah Doma, AFP/File
Presumably, Aswad expected the HoR to take a vote of confidence in the GNA as required by the Libyan Political Agreement. The HoR would also have to vote an amendment to the constitutional declaration of 2011. Aswad said it was urgent that the meeting take place to prevent the political situation from deteriorating even further.
In a letter sent April 30, Aswad still referred to himself as a PC member although he has been boycotting meetings. He called on PM-designate Faiez Serraj and other PC members to suspend their current activities which would include taking over ministries and receiving foreign visits, since the GNA had not been approved by the HoR as required by the Libyan Political Agreement. However, some time ago the GNA accepted a statement of an alleged majority of the HoR that they supported the GNA, and alleged approval of going ahead and moving to Tripoli by a meeting of Political Dialogue members, as constituting a green light to declare itself up and running and to move at least six members of the PC to Tripoli. The requirement that there be an amendment to the constitutional declaration has just been ignored, unless you want to count the passage of such an amendment at a State Council meeting during the early part of the meeting when the State Council acted as the General National Council (GNC). It also approved the GNA and then dissolved itself to become the State Council.
Aswad described the actions of the PC as "provocative." He warned them not to make any promises or sign any international agreements. Most western countries already support the GNA and Kobler is anxious to boost the power of the GNA. The PC are unlikely to pay any heed to Aswad's warnings. He also warned the PC and UN against rushing the situation saying doing so could cause the country to collapse. Rather than collapsing it is more likely to break up into two parts at least, Cyrenaica in the east and Tripolitania in the west
Aswad said the State Council was illegal since it was to be formed ten days after the 2011 Constitutional Declaration was amended, according to the LPA. There has been no such amendment, unless you take the GNC as the sole legitimate legislature of Libya. Weird as it seems that the GNA and UN would take this view, it is the only context that makes sense of the motion supposedly made by the GNC being legitimate. Of course it was not really the GNC, just the members of it that supported the GNA. If Aswad is correct, then this just represents one more illegal act among many committed by the GNA and sanctioned by the UN and most of the international community.
Aswad also was critical of the Temporary Security Committee because it hired militias to protect the councils and its members. The GNA did not have much choice since the only Libyan National Army forces are under the command of Khalifa Haftar. Those troops would not be welcome in Tripoli and many in the PC would not agree to it. Aswad is a Haftar supporter.
Aswad is obviously issuing his warning as some members of the HoR arrived in Ghadames last week to arrange for a session in which they and other pro-GNA colleagues are expected to meet and endorse the GNA and the LPA. It is expected to happen next Wednesday. It is not clear what the status of General Haftar will be after the meeting since even those in favor of the GNA want him to remain as commander in chief. Divisions will just be stronger within the GNA while at the same it will leave members of the HoR also hopelessly divided. This disastrous development is being encouraged by the UN Special Representative to the General-Secretary(SRSG), Martin Kobler, who suggested that a meeting take place outside of Tobruk. However, it is just one more of several attempts by the UN to bypass a parliament when it does not do what the UN wants. The first was in forging the Libyan Political Agreement or LPA when only members who approved the agreement from the two rival parliaments were invited to sign. Neither of the two parliaments ever signed. This was hailed by everyone as a great leap forward.