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Op-Ed: Newly established State Council of Libyan GNA criticized

Critics claim the Council has no legitimacy until the GNA is given a formal vote of confidence by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives. Last week, the State Council established itself as described by the Libya Herald: Last Tuesday, several dozen members of the General National Congress (GNC) announced the approval of the LPA, the GNC dissolved and the State Council in session. They then proceeded to elect Misratan politician Abdulrahman Sewehli as president and Saleh Makhzoum, the former GNC second deputy president, as the Council’s first deputy president.

There have been protests both in Tripoli and Benghazi against the establishment of the Council. Emhemed Shouaib, deputy president of the HoR, has said the self-declared formation of the State Council is a violation of the Libya Political Agreement. He said that there would be a meeting of Libya Dialogue members this Thursday to discuss the issue.

Faithu Bashagha, a boycotting member of the HoR from Misrata, said a meeting of the Dialogue members could only complicate matters. Apparently, a meeting of the Dialogue members was appropriate when the UN wanted to have the GNA up and running, with no vote from the HoR. It helped give a green light for the GNA to declare itself born and to move to Tripoli. Bahsagha said: “Where were these voices when the HoR violated the political agreement and removed (item 8) from the appendix rules.” There is no item 8 in the appendix as far as I can find. Probably he means article 8 in the main text or article 8 of the additional provisions. These are articles that give the Presidential Council the job of commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army taking away Haftar’s job. There is no way that the HoR can remove the sections as even UN representative Martin Kobler has said. What the HoR did was to approve the GNA only in principle and demanded that Section 8 be removed. Both sections are still there. The HoR does not have the power to amend the LPA. The Presidency Council has simply ignored both provisions of Section 8 continually violating the LPA. That is an issue the Dialogue members could take up.
The Libya Herald reports on the position of Makhzoum who drew up the list of the State Council and convened the meeting last Tuesday:For his part, Makhzoum has insisted that the meeting of the State Council was legitimate because at Tuesday’s meeting, the GNC had amended the Constitution and legalised the LPA. That, he claimed, in no way contradicted the HoR’s role in approving it. The State Council, he said, was committed to the LPA and the HoR was the country’s sole legislature. The list was supposed to be presented by Abusahmain, the president of the GNC, but he rejects the GNA and did not present a list. Violating the LPA, the GNA presidency — with the approval of the UN, no doubt — had Makhzoum draw up the list and approved it. There were two sections of the State Council meeting. In the first part, Makhzoum convened the group as the GNC. From the GNC point of view it is the sole legitimate legislature of Libya as the Libyan Supreme Court had ruled in November 14 that the HoR elections were unconstitutional and the HoR should be dissolved. Thus the GNC is the legitimate legislature in spite of the fact that the international community recognized only the HoR until the GNA came along. The GNC can thus legitimately amend the constitution and approve the GNA. As Makhzoum said the HoR can still approve the GNA although it seems only necessary since it will be the legislature of the GNA. Perhaps as I suggested recently, if the HoR does not sign on to the GNA soon, those favoring the GNA from the HoR will meet in Tripoli declaring themselves the HoR and pass a vote of confidence in the GNA.

In a recent article, Jason Pack also points out some of the difficulties in the formation of the State Council and some criticisms of the move. He describes the establishment of the State Council as follows: On 5 April the GNC announced its dissolution and the establishment of the State Council. On 7 April the 73 members of the GNC circumvented the HoR by ‘amending’ the constitutional declaration and electing the controversial Misratan politician Abdulrahman Sewhli as President of the SC.

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