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Saturday, April 9, 2016

UN's Martin Kobler anxious for House of Representatives to vote confidence in Government of National Accord

Although the UN-brokered Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) has moved to Tripoli and is recognized as the sole legitimate government by the UN, the House of Representatives (HoR) has yet to hold a formal vote of confidence in the GNA.

The formal vote is required by the Libya Political Agreement (LPA) signed on December 17 in Skhirat, Morocco. Those signing included members from both the HoR and the rival General National Congress (GNC). The members who signed had no authorization to do so by either parliament. Neither parliament ever voted approval of the agreement.
The Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG), Martin Kobler claims the HoR approved the LPA in January. This is false. They approved it only in principle. As I explained in a recent article:The claim that the HoR approved the LPA in January is strictly speaking a falsehood. What it did was accept the LPA in principle but in effect rejecting it and the GNA as well. They demanded that Section 8 of the LPA that gives the function of commander-in-chief of the LNA to the presidency council immediately upon the vote of confidence in the HoR be deletedNo one notices when Kobler distorts the truth in important ways.
Section 8 appears to be forgotten so it is worthwhile actually reading what the Skhirat agreement says. It is actually available online. There are two sections 8. One is in the main text on page 8 and says: 2. Terms of Reference of the Presidency Council of the Council of Ministers:a. Assume the functions of the Supreme Commander of the Libyan army.This is to take effect immediately upon the HoR vote of confidence, which marks the beginning of the term of office. However, the GNA is already operating, recognized as the sole legitimate government, and the Presidency Council meets with mayors, central bank head etc.etc. So the Presidential Council is supposed to be commander in chief of the Libyan National Army. Not a word about this in the press. But that is not all. There is another section 8 in the additional provisions on page 20: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 agreement was signed on December 17. According to the agreement that the UN and others applaud Haftar lost his job last year. Apparently, Haftar did not receive notice of his termination. Perhaps the EU should sanction whoever forgot to send it.
For some time now the GNA has been acting as if it is already in operation and the UN and international community has accepted this as the case. After the HoR did not give a vote of confidence in the GNA, Kobler simply gathered together the members of the Libya Dialogue who signed Skhirat to get their blessing and prated on about the majority of the HoR who had sent a letter stating they accepted the GNA. Then the Presidency Council announced the birth of the GNA: The council said in a statement on Saturday that it had a majority of signatures approving the new government from the House of Representatives (HOR) – one of Libya’s two rival post-Gaddafi assemblies – as well as endorsement by other political figures. This amounted to a “green light to start work”, the council said.The Presidential Council warned that “all Libyan sovereign and public institutions and the heads of financial bodies to start communicating immediately with the Government of National Accord so as to hand over power in a peaceful and orderly manner. The Presidential Council also calls on the international community and international and regional organisations ... to stop dealing with any executive power that does not follow the Government of National Accord.”
While the UN still occasionally reminded the HoR that they should carry out their obligations under the LPA, they did not bother to say what they were. At least five meetings were held of the HoR afterwards with no quorum at any. In spite of the fact that a majority support the GNA, it seems that they cannot be bothered showing up at Tobruk to vote. Twice last week the president of the HoR, Ageela Salah pleaded with members to appear so there would be a quorum. You might think members of the majority might be subject to sanctions for not coming and obstructing the peace process. This did not happen. Salah was sanctioned by the EU.
Yet suddenly Kobler is anxious for a vote even though he has been successful in activating the GNA without a formal vote. In a tweet he says:The HoR remains the legitimate body to endorse the GNA. I urge the HoR to hold a comprehensive session to vote on the GNA in free will.No mention of the need for an amendment to the Constitutional Declaration of 2011. The reason for the need for a vote after the GNA went ahead without it can be found in the recent meeting of members of the HoR, mayors and notables from the east who rejected the GNA and demanded that their demands be met or Cyrenaica might separate. This is what lit the fire under Kobler. One of the demands is that Haftar remain commander-in-chief. Will Kobler agree to ignore the two sections 8 as has been done so far? Perhaps the HoR will demand an iron clad guarantee to keep Haftar on. If Kobler promises one, the GNA will probably implode with Islamist members leaving. So far they remain even though the GNA has clearly violated both sections 8 of the LPA and their sworn foe remains at the helm. What did Kobler promise them to keep them quiet?


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