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Op-Ed: State Council of Libyan Government of National Accord meets

The GNA is part of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed on Dec. 17.

Kobler welcome the preparatory meeting tweeting: “I welcome &strongly support 40 GNC meeting today in Tripoli to prepare 1st mtg of State Council (SC): right way forward, strengthens SC &LPA.” Even the Libya Herald, which is often pro-UN and favors the GNA, speaks of the membership of the State Council being something of a grey area. While the term of the State Council along with that of the GNA does not start until a vote of confidence, it does exist in some respects as soon as the LPA is signed. Supporters note Article 67 of the LPA supports this view. However, critics claim the group has no legal status until the HoR votes the LPA to be part of the 2011 constitution. There is no word as to when that might happen since the meeting of the HoR on Tuesday the 23rd of February did not take a vote. It could be next week. The 40 in Kobler’s tweet presumably means just 40 members of the 145 member group met. The State Council is mainly a consultative body. The legislature of the GNA is the HoR.

The LPA requires that Nuri Abu Sahmain, president of the General National Congress (GNC) based in Tripoli, choose the members. However, the GNC did not approve the LPA or GNA and Sahmain has refused to cooperate with the GNA since it is not approved by the GNC. However, some members of the GNC did approve the LPA when it was signed in Skhirat, Morocco. Included among them were then deputy president Salah Makhzoum. He signed on to the LPA even though he had left the GNC negotiating committee in August.

Several weeks ago, Makhzoum announced a list of members of the State Council even though he had no authorization from the GNC to do so. However, the UN and Kobler have obviously accepted the list. Illegalities do not matter when the issue is what the UN and international community want done. Makhzoum is not even any longer a member of the GNC, having been expelled.

The Libya Observer reported some time ago that First Deputy President Awad Abdul-Sadiq said some absentees had begun to declare themselves as members of the State Council. He said this was baseless since the GNC never approved the Skhirat LPA. He said: “They also violated the constitutional declaration and signed the agreement without GNC approval.” Other sources said that those expelled included Mohammed Amari who is a member of the GNA Presidency Council, Makhzoum, and Mohammed Emmazib. In all 10 members were expelled.

Another member who was expelled, Belgassem Gzeit, was the person who announced the “consultative” meeting in Tripoli to appoint a committee that would draft the council’s procedures and regulations. These regulations would need to be approved at the Council’s first official meeting.

Even though members of the GNC may be split on support for the GNA, they agree that Haftar should not be head of the armed forces in any new government. Makhzoum was quick to criticize the HoR for demanding that section 8 of the Skhirat agreement be removed. There are actually two sections 8, one in the main text and the other in additional provisions. The one in additional provisions has been ignored. If it were honored then Haftar would have lost his job on December 17 when the LPA was signed. However, the section 8 in the main text gives the function of commander in chief of the Libyan National Army to the Presidency Council immediately upon a vote of confidence from the HoR. The issue is simply dropped from discussion. All that is talked about now is the vote of confidence in the GNA and even that is not clearly discussed.

Meanwhile there is again talk of the EU sanctioning “spoilers” who interfere with all this illegal activity.The EU ministers, from Mediterranean countries in this case, have bad memories. What ever happened to the sanctions against Khalifa Haftar? This time around no specific person is named as being subject to sanctions.

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