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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

UN envoy's response to PM of Tobruk-based government's criticism

A new report by the Associated Press (AP) notes that Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), says Abdullah al-Thinni, PM of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, is not the recognized PM of Libya.

The report says:
The U.N. envoy to Libya said Wednesday that the Cabinet based in the North African country's eastern region is not internationally recognized, remarks that were in response to criticism levelled the previous day by the premier of that government. Martin Kobler stressed in an email to The Associated Press that the eastern-based premier, Abdullah al-Thinni, "is not the recognized prime minister of Libya."As I pointed out in an earlier article, the AP erroneously called Al-Thinni the prime minister of Libya. Apparently, the AP did not take the email as an attempt to correct its error but just a response to Al-Thinni's remarks. Yet the response makes it clear that Al-Thinni is not the PM of Libya, as the AP headline claimed. In one version of the report, there is a photo with a caption that still refers to Al-Thinni as PM of Libya. Is there some explanation as to why a major news organization could be so clueless?
The report says the email.was in response to the AP interview with Al-Thinni. The AP does not mention that in the interview, it erroneously referred to Al-Thinni as the PM of Libya. It never occurred to AP that Kobler might be trying in part to correct AP as well as responding to Al-Thinni's criticism. The AP apparently did not check for typos: Al-Thinni's easter-based, interim government is recognized by the elected parliament, also seated in eastern Libya. Al-Thinni had served as defense minister after the ouster and killing of Libya's longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.I assume the Al-Thinni government is "eastern-based" rather than "easter-based". The AP refers to the House of Representatives (HoR) as the "interim government" even though the Libya Political Agreement (LPA) makes the Government of National Accord (GNA) the interim government. The AP still does not discuss the relevance of the LPA to the HoR. The AP notes that Al-Thinni was defense minister for a time in the government after Gadaffi was overthrown. Perhaps a little context to this factoid might be helpful. Wikipedia says of Al-Thinni that he was: Prime Minister of Libya from 11 March 2014 until 2016, when he took over in an interim capacity after Congress dismissed Ali Zeidan.[2] He was previously the defence minister in the government of Ali Zeidan.[3]Al-Thinni was defense minister when Haftar attempted his first coup in February of 2014. As the Wikipedia entry on Haftar notes: In February 2014, Haftar appeared in a televised announcement to announce that the controversial Islamist-dominated General National Congress (GNC), which had recently unilaterally extended its mandate, had been dissolved. Haftar called for a caretaker government to oversee new elections. His announcement was soon dismissed with great skepticism by the then acting Prime Minister Ali Zeidan. Haftar's actions were condemned as a "coup attempt" and "ridiculous".[23][24]
A warrant was issued for Haftar's arrest but of course was never executed.
While the HoR was elected, it was with only 14 to 18 percent participation. The election was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court of Libya. Its mandate ran out last October and was not legally extended. But it was elected!
Al-Thinni was prime minister when in May, as part of Operation Dignity, Haftar allies attacked and burned the parliament:Three months later on 16 May in Operation Dignity, Haftar began a combined air and ground assault against the pro-Islamic militias of Benghazi, as well as a sustained heavy weapons attack against the Libyan parliament.[25]Al Thinni condemned the attack. On the second of March 2015, Al Thinni as PM of the HoR government appointed Haftar as head of the Libyan National Army (LNA). In Libya, all things are possible.
The AP report remarks that Kobler said that according to a UN Security Council resolution, member states are ordered not to deal with any other parallel institutions in Libya.Of course the GNA itself is negotiating with the HoR parallel National Oil Company (NOC) and also the parallel Libyan Central Bank.


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