Sunday, January 24, 2016

GNA still needs vote of confidence from House of Representatives before its term starts

The Presidency Council of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) has named 32 members of the cabinet. However, only seven of the nine-member Council voted, two having suspended their membership before the vote.

One member who suspended his membership was Ali Gatrani, who was one of the designated deputy ministers, and the other was Omar Al-Aswad, a Presidency Council minister. According to Reuters:
Late on Monday, one of the council members who did not sign the document naming the new government, Ali Faraj al-Qatrani, announced he was withdrawing from the process, saying eastern Libya was under-represented and there was not sufficient support for the armed forces allied to the eastern government.The GNA government names must be submitted to the House of Representatives (HoR), the internationally recognized Libyan government located in Tobruk in eastern Libya. The rival General National Congress (GNC) government is located in Tripoli in the west. After a vote of confidence by the HoR, the GNA will become the sole internationally-recognized government, but the HoR will become the sole legislative body of the GNA.. The HoR must vote on the GNA within 10 days of the announcement of the GNA's formation.
One source told the BBC that the proposed cabinet was "illegitimate" because it had not been unanimously agreed to by the Council. When claims such as this are made it would be very helpful if the section of the LPA which demands this unanimity be cited. The BBC could easily check this. The BBC article makes the astute observation that the cabinet was proposed for the sake of meeting deadlines and not losing momentum towards getting the GNA approved and up and running. The UN and international community seem bound and determined to forge ahead in spite of the dangers of attempting to create the GNA when conditions may not be at all favorable for its being accepted. Neither of the two rival parliaments approved the LPA nor did Khalifa Haftar head of the HoR armed forces or Libya Dawn the main militia supporting the GNC government.
The two members of the council who suspended their membership are supporters of Haftar. Gatrani specifically noted that he suspended his membership because there was no guarantee that Haftar would retain his position as commander in chief of the Libyan National Army(LNA), a demand made by many members of the HoR. In particular Gatrani worried about Article 8 of the additions to the LPA which can be found in the text of the LPA signed in Skhirat on December17: Article (8)
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.
The Presidency Council of the GNA has simply ignored that since December 17, it should have been carrying out the functions of commander in chief of the LNA. Haftar has continued in his job. Obviously the GNA must have been advised by the UN that it could safely ignore this provision. Someone must have said that was OK, as a means of convincing pro-Haftar members of the GNA that they could serve in the GNA without Haftar being dismissed. You can read accounts of what is happening in the New York Times, in the BBC, or in Reuters, and this issue is not even mentioned. The GNA can act illegally for a month but it is not of interest to prominent news organizations.
The BBC quotes one anonymous Libyan as saying: "A selected cabinet with no cohesiveness might as well not bother turning up at the starting line." I expect that is not the issue that might cause the defeat of the vote of confidence in the GNA. One key factor will be a guarantee that Haftar's position within the armed forces is maintained. If this guarantee is provided, the GNC members of the GNA will likely revolt.

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