Thursday, February 11, 2016

GNA misses another deadline for vote of confidence by the Libyan HoR

The internationally-recognized House of Representatives (HoR) government was to meet yesterday to give a vote of confidence in the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA).

Members of the HoR, including a number who had been boycotting sessions, gathered in Tobruk for the vote. However, the GNA Presidency Council, who had been meeting in Skhirat, Morocco, to produce the new slate of ministers of the GNA, failed to come to an agreement on time. The HoR representatives had no list to vote on.
This is the second time the GNA Presidency Council, led by Prime Minister designate Faiez Serraj, has failed to meet the deadline for submission of the names. The original list of 32 members was presented to the HoR a day late and was rejected for having too many ministries, 32 in all. It also rejected approval of the UN-brokered Libya Political Agreement, from which the GNA derives, unless a section is deleted that would remove the present commander-in-chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) from his job. The Presidency Council itself would take on the position of commander-in-chief of the LNA. However, the LPA can be amended only after it has a vote of confidence from the HoR on the LPA as it is now. Khalifa Haftar, who is commander-in-chief, probably still has enough power over the HoR to see to it that there is no vote of confidence unless he retains his position or there is some deal worked out that satisfies him.
In a recent news release by Martin Kobler — the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) — in Libya, urging the vote of confidence in the GNA, he makes no mention of a deadline but stresses the importance of quick action. The GNA takes the position that the deadline of 10 days started when it received the letter from the HoR rejection of its earlier names. The deadline is today, but there is no sign that the list will be complete today.
Irregularities in the process of creating the GNA mean nothing. Indeed, the HoR has no legal standing since its mandate ran out last October. The important big powers recognize it and that is all that counts. The legal status of the HoR never even comes up and is outside the frame of discussion, as is the fact that Libyan Supreme Constitutional Court in November 2014 ruled that the election creating it was unconstitutional and the HoR should be dissolved.
The GNA has not been able to appoint a defense minister acceptable to supporters of Khalifa Haftar. Haftar refuses to negotiate with or even consider a ceasefire with the Libya Dawn militia the armed forces of the rival General National Congress(GNC) government based in Tripoli in western Libya. His supporters insist that either he or someone he favors be appointed defense minister. Members of the GNC who signed the LPA would never agree to this and so far there has been no solution that would allow for any agreement on an appointment.
The conflict is not just between the GNC and HoR members — there is also conflict within the HoR camp. There is conflict between Ali Gatrani, a deputy prime minister and strong supporter of Haftar, and another member from the east, Fathi Majberi. Majberi is a close ally of Ibrahim Jodhran, the head of the Petroleum Facilities Guards, a bitter opponent of Haftar. Ali Gatrani is threatening to suspend his membership in the Presidency Council again if he does not get his way. Ali Gatrani said that factional and regional interests were holding up a decision on the new cabinet: "The Presidency Council is made up of 9 people; they are supposed to represent all Libya, but frankly speaking they all either represent parties, individuals, or private ideologies. Most sovereign ministries will be in Tripoli which we refuse."
The Libya Herald reports:In an attempt to diffuse the problem the Council is reported to be looked at a number of alternatives. These are that Prime Minister-designate Faiez Serraj take on the defence ministry himself, that a committee be set up to assume to functions for three months, or than no one be appointed to the post at present.Earlier the Council decided that the defense ministry would go to someone from the south, but that plan seems to have been abandoned. Southern representatives in the HoR might as a result decide to vote against the GNA.
The Herald also claims those opposed to Haftar have agreed to defer the issue for now but have made it clear that they would not accept him having any role in government. It also claims the HoR would almost certainly refuse to approve a government that includes him. I do not know where the Herald gets this last idea. Haftar appears to have control of the HoR. No doubt, due to pressure from the UN, the Council has agreed that at least three of the ministers be women. The Presidency Council has asked for another 10 days to name those in a new GNA government.


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