Another motion to support the Libya Political Agreement(LPA) was passed but with the provision that Article 8 that gave the Presidential Council the function of commander in chief of the Libyan National Army be deleted. The publishing of the text of the LPA signed at Skhirat on December 17 shows Haftar lost his job immediately upon signing the agreement. There are actually two parts to section 8, one in the main text and the other in Additional Provisions. The Additional Provisions section 8 reads in part:
Article (8) Since December 17 the Presidential Council has ignored its duties under the LPA. Apparently Kobler never noticed nor did most members in the GNA or almost all of the mainstream press, who still have yet to notice.
All powers of the senior military, civil and security posts stipulated in the Libyan legislations and
laws in force shall be transferred to the Presidency Council of the Council of Ministers immediately
upon signing this Agreement. .
One member of the GNA who did notice was Ali Al-Gatrani, who suspended his membership in the GNA specifically because he did not have sufficient guarantees that Haftar would remain as commander in chief of the LNA. He must have thought that perhaps after the GNA had a vote of confidence that the section 8 of the main text would be honored giving the Presidential Council the role of Commander in Chief. Someone must have convinced pro-Haftar members of the GNA that the additional section 8 in the Skhirat agreement could be ignored, unless they all simply failed to read the text of the LPA.
The vote in favor of the LPA, but only with the deletion of section 8, was by 97 members of the 104 present. Kobler has insisted vehemently time after time that there can be no amendments to the LPA. If he struck out section 8 entirely then all those associated with the GNC within the GNA and many others could very well toss in the towel. The GNC and others consider Haftar unacceptable and demand he be sidelined. Haftar in his Operation Dignity begun back in 2004 vows to clear Libya of Islamists including those forces protecting the rival General National Congress(GNC) in Tripoli. As Reuters put it:
The armed forces allied to the eastern government are led by Gen Khalifa Haftar, a former Gaddafi ally who has become one of the most divisive figures among Libya’s rival groups. Many in the east see him as the future leader of a national army, but he is despised by forces allied to the government in Tripoli. While a former Gaddafi ally and part of the original coup, he was later an implacable foe and no doubt worked for the CIA. He had to be rescued together with many of his men and flown to safety in the United States. I have appended a documentary on Khaftar. He lived near the US headquarters of the CIA for years and returned to Libya during the rebellion against Gaddafi. Haftar has so far been untouchable.
Although he was named as being subject to EU sanctions for his actions opposed to the UN dialogue process, they were never imposed. Instead, he gained the support of Egypt, the Arab League, and UAE and signed a military agreement with Jordan. He now has foiled Kobler’s grand plans to have a GNA up and running that can give permission for foreign forces to operate against the Islamic State in Libya. Haftar seems to be making it clear that only with him in charge of the Libyan National Army can the Government of National Accord come into being and operate. There are divisions even in the east with some groups not supporting Haftar. However, unlike Kobler who has the support of many countries and the UN General Assembly, Haftar seems to be controlling events.
The HoR has given the Presidency Council 10 days to put forward a new shorter list of ministers. According to the Guardian the HoR is demanding that the j32 member cabinet be cut to 17. Omar Al-Aswad who suspended his membership in the GNA claims the Council had agreed to have just ten members with each of nine Council members nominating one and the designated Prime Minister Serraj the tenth. When he woke up the next day he found out that everything was changed, He met Serraj and demanded that the earlier agreement be honored but to no avail. The media fails to notice that the deadline for approval of the GNA will be the January 27th. To extend the period for ten days violates the LPA. Shh! No one will notice. No one notices any more that the HoR has no legal foundation. Its mandate ran out last October and was extended by the body itself with no legal foundation to do so.
The UN’s Martin Kobler has just issued a statement on the HoR vote:
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Martin Kobler, welcomes the endorsement in principle of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) by the House of Representatives. “I take note of the reservation of the House of Representatives on article (8) and remind all parties that any amendment to the LPA must be in line with the mechanism of the Libyan Political Agreement.” SRSG Kobler said. “We will continue consultations with all parties to find consensual solution to all outstanding issues,” He added
The Special Representative also takes note of House of Representatives’ decision to refer back the list of the cabinet to the Presidency Council. He urges both the Presidency Council and the HoR to take the necessary decisions as soon as possible
The way Kobler talks, the vote was a great leap forward to be welcomed, when in fact the GNA was rejected and the LPA accepted only on condition that he jettison a key provision of the LPA. No mention that by Wednesday the LPA will have been violated since there will have been no vote of confidence in the GNA. Before Kobler constantly reminded the parties that there could be no amendments to the GNA and the dialogue was over. All of a sudden it becomes possible. Perhaps the GNC government will welcome the change and demand that its own amendments which Kobler refused to consider before should now be looked at “in line with the mechanism of the Libyan Political Agreement.” Kobler does not tell us what this involves.
Foreign powers, anxious to confront the Islamic State in Libya, appear to be tired of waiting for the GNA to be formed so they can seek permission and legitimacy for any intervention. Troops from several countries but in small numbers are already active.