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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Libyan Government of National Accord loses four cabinet ministers

On Thursday four cabinet members of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) submitted their resignations. They were accepted. The Presidential Council did not reveal the reasons for the resignations.

The four were Finance Minister Fakhir Bouferna, Justice Minister Jumaa al-Dersi, National Reconciliation Minister Adbed Al-Abadi, and Industry Minister Abdel Bouferwa. All are from eastern Libya. Reuters also reports on the resignations.
Since coming to Tripoli several months ago, the GNA has been unsuccessful in unifying the country. There has still been no vote of confidence in the GNA by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), A number of meetings for the vote lacked a quorum and two others were disrupted with no vote. The commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) associated with the HoR, Khalifa Haftar, has refused to recognize the GNA or join a unified command under the Presidential Council of the GNA. One reason that the HoR has not yet agreed to the GNA is that members want Haftar to remain as commander of the LNA whereas the Libyan Political Agreement as it is makes the Presidential Council commander in chief until a new one is appointed. Recently Haftar adopted a more cooperative stance to working with some militia loyal to the GNA.
The GNA is based in a Tripoli naval base although it has taken over a number of ministries and has the support of the UN and most of the international community, as well as local militia. There is some agreement between rival central banks and national oil companies but these agreements actually contradict the GNA position that there is only one valid central bank and national oil company.
An offensive by troops loyal to the GNA and mostly made up of Misrata militia has been successful in defeating the Islamic State (IS) who now only hold a small area in the middle of Sirte and are surrounded by BAM (Solid Structure) forces. However, the troops complain that they had little help from the GNA and the GNA did not apply for weapons for the group by asking the UN to provide an exception to the ban on weapons for LIbya. The BAM forces did have some help from forces of the Petroleum Facilities Guard who attacked the IS from the east. Colonel Haftar announced almost a month ago that he would liberate Sirte but has not engaged the IS in the area at all. Small numbers of special forces from the UK and US have helped the offensive.
The GNA may have asked for the ministers to hand in their resignations since they had failed to take up their duties. A 2010 regulation allows minister who did not assume their duties after 30 days to be terminated. Since the ministers are all from the east, the HoR may be even more reluctant to vote confidence in the government.
No reasons were given for the ministers not taking up their duties. They could have been boycotting the government on political grounds or they could have feared for their security in Tripoli. Faiez Serraj will have a difficult task finding new ministers as he will need to ensure that the east retains a significant presence in the cabinet if he hopes to have the confidence vote pass.
Serraj loses his finance minister in the midst of a liquidity crisis and cash shortage although there are agreements between the two rival central banks. Serraj is also under pressure to deal with human rights abuses that will involve investigations that could involve international organizations and will work closely with the Justice Ministry.


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