Friday, January 15, 2016

UN envoy to Libya accused of blocking vote in HoR on the Government of National Accord

News releases out of Libya are becoming quite bizarre and disturbing. A recent article in the Libya Observer, a news source that usually favors the General National Congress (GNC) based in Tripoli is a case in point.

The GNC government is a rival to the internationally-recognized government, the House of Representatives (HoR), based in the east of Libya in Tobruk. The Libya Observer claims Martin Kobler, the head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), is blocking the HoR from voting on the UN-brokered Government of National Accord(GNA)
The HoR has already met at least four times without achieving a quorum. HoR parliament member Ibrahim Zagaid claims Kobler has ordered the parliament not to meet until January 25. On Libya Channel Zagaid said:"A close colleague informed me from Tunisia that Kobler had ordered them to meet only on January 25. If this was confirmed and we couldn't meet until January 25, then it would be a catastrophe."
Zagaid is opposed to the Libya Political Agreement (LPA) and the associated Government of National Accord (GNA). The Skhirat LPA was signed by members of the Libyan Political Dialogue including members from the HoR and GNC, but none of the members were authorized by either parliament to sign. Neither parliament ever agreed to the LPA and that is still the case. However, the HoR, according to the terms of the LPA, must meet and pass a vote of confidence in the GNA, after all members are chosen and the political program outlined. The GNA must present the GNA membership and the program to the HoR within 30 days of the signing of the agreement, which was on December 17. The material must be presented to the HoR by January 17 and then the HoR has 10 days to meet and approve the GNA. The January 25 date would be within those parameters. However, it is not clear why Kobler would want to wait until the last day unless he still has to make sure that he will have the type of vote he wants.
While Kobler maintains that a majority in the HoR approve the GNA, it is only in principle. The majority want Haftar to remain on as commander in chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA). The LPA has a provision requiring the function of commander in chief of the LNA be taken over by senior officials of the GNA immediately upon the formation of the GNA, which will occur when the GNA receives a vote of confidence from the HoR. Kobler claims the LPA cannot be changed. There has been division within the GNA presidential council on the status of Haftar. Representatives from the GNC will oppose any retention of Haftar as commander in chief of the LNA. Perhaps Kobler wants more time to sort out this issue before holding a vote in the HoR.
Zagaid insists that those who are preventing voting on the GNA are those members who actually attended and voted on the agreement. He claims most of them are in Tunis or Egypt. This could very well be true as there are surely meetings going on of the GNA in Tunis, and these members would be at those meetings since the HoR is the legislative body of the GNA. Zagaidcomplained,"We urged them for several times to come to Tobruk and meet to discuss and vote on Skhirat agreement, but they didn't. We come on Mondays and Tuesdays for the parliament meeting, but we fail to reach the needed quorum because of them."
As yet, I have not seen any confirmation of Zagaid's claim from other sources. If his claim is true, it is quite ironic in that these same members and also Kobler had long complained that it was HoR president Ageela Salah and those opposed to the LPA who had blocked any vote. Now Salah claims to support the GNA and even came to some meetings where a quorum was lacking. There are other recent articles that make one wonder what Kobler is up to but that deserves another post. Kobler could help out by giving his own explanation as to why the HoR cannot achieve a quorum and vote on the LNA when a majority approve it, according to him, and even the president who was supposedly blocking the vote earlier is now a supporter of the GNA. You would think that he will immediately issue a denial of the charge he is responsible for the vote not taking place.
UPDATE: The UN has denied Zagaid's claim and assert that Kobler is doiong everything he can do get a vote. No explanation why he cannot do it as he claims there is a majority in favor including the president. No planes flying from Tunis or Egypt?

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