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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Libyan Presidency Council meets to select new cabinet

The Presidency Council (PC) of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) is meeting today (August 28) to choose eight new ministers to present for a vote of confidence to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR)

There had been earlier reports that the list of new members had already been presented to the HoR as discussed in a recent Digital Journal Article. The meeting today was discussed yesterday by the Libya Herald :
Tomorrow it will be back to the drawing board when Faiez Serraj and his fellow members of the Presidency Council sit down for the third time to produce a cabinet for the Government of National Accord acceptable to the House of Representatives. Their second attempt, drawn up way back in February, was finally thrown out this week by parliament. It has demanded that the PC come up with a smaller cabinet with no more than eight ministries.This report confirms the fact that the HoR has demanded a cabinet of just 8 ministers. Achieving such a reduced number may be difficult as there are 17 ministers now although 4 have resigned. The report notes that Omar Al-Aswad from Zintan had ended his boycott so he could take part in selecting the new reduced cabinet. The Libya Herald claimed the other boycotter Ali Gatrani, a close ally of General Haftar, commander of the HoR forces, was unlikely to rejoin even though he had been urged to do so by Martin Kobler the UN envoy to Libya.
There are conflicting reports about whether Gatrani will rejoin the PC. Koblerhimself tweeted: "long, positive meeting w/ PC member Ali Qatrani. happy that he intends to re-join the Presidency Council". On the other hand the Libya Heraldreports: "Boycotting member of the Presidency Council (PC) Ali Gatrani is refusing to rejoin it, ostensibly on the grounds that that it is meeting in Tripoli." Another tweet claims that he has rejoined conditionally: "Deputy PM Ali Gitrani announces his conditional return to #GNA PresidencyCouncil but says PC should leave Tripoli." The return of the two boycotters, especially Gitrani, will ensure that the demands of the HoR and Haftar have more weight in determining the makeup of the new cabinet. The present defense minister is unlikely to be on the list since he is an opponent of Haftar.
Even though the two boycotters have rejoined, they along with two others of the nine member PC are not present at today's meeting, according to a recent tweet: "4 members are absent from the meeting: Musa al-Koni, Ali al-Gitrani, Omar al-Aswad, & Abdessalam Kajman (the latter3 are out of the country)." it is surprising that the PC is meeting with just over half of the members present. If decisions are made today then the others will be angry. No doubt more meetings will be required. PM of the GNA, Faiez Serraj, said that the meeting was crucially important: “It is taking place at a fateful and difficult time as the country suffers serious crises. This imposes on us the duty to forget our differences and make the country’s wider interests a priority”.
No mention is made of any solution to the status of General Khalifa Haftar. He rejects the role of the PC as commander in chief of the GNA armed forces and wants himself to be in that role. The present Libya Political Agreement(LPA) requires that the PC not Haftar be commander in chief. Until this issue is solved a new cabinet will not unify the country. However, it is quite likely that there will be continual problems even getting a vote of confidence from the HoR in a new cabinet and one can expect divisions within the PC on the issue.



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