Sunday, May 1, 2016

Libyan General National Congress claims it still exists but seems to have no power

The former rival of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) and the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA), the General National Congress (GNC), claims it is still alive and functioning.

The statement did not say where the GNC was meeting or who was still involved in the parliament and the associated Salvation government. Last week, a militia loyal to the GNA and its State Council took over the headquarters of the GNC at the RIxos hotel and offices of the GNC across the street. There was no resistance from the guards loyal to the GNC. The statement condemned the takeover of its headquarters by the State Council. The group asked the Supreme Court to intervene and rule on the legality of the State Council and the Political Agreement. Nothing is likely to happen. Without any supporting militia the GNC group lacks any power to enforce any of its demands.
The statement from the GNC ordered the "National Salvation Government" headed by Khalifa Ghwell, who is under EU sanctions, to continue working and insisted it was the only legitimate Libyan legislature. The GNA has been taking over all the former ministries of the GNC apparently without resistance. One of the ministries previously issued a report that the GNC was dissolved. There does not seem to be any Salvation government left to continue work.
A meeting of the GNA State Council some time ago was also described during its first stages as the last meeting of the GNC. As the GNC, the meeting approved the GNA and amended the constitutional declaration of 2011. It then dissolved itself and became the State Council. A rival meeting of the GNC at its headquarters with its president denounced the State Council meeting and declared it illegal.
The whereabouts of the president of the GNC Nuri Abusahmain is not known. He has not been seen nor heard from since the State Council took over his headquarters and offices. He may be trying to return to his home town of Zuwara, near the Tunisian border. One report claims he has been smuggled back into Zuwara.
While the GNA appears to have been successful in wresting power from the GNC, the same is not true of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR). The Libyan National Army (LNA) under General Khalifa Haftar continues to support the HoR, which has so far refused to vote confidence in the GNA or relinquish power. It has even tried to export oil independently from the Tripoli-based National Oil Company. Haftar has received a large shipment of vehicles and ammunition and is now marching towards Sirte, the stronghold of the Islamic State.
It remains to be seen whether along the way he secures the oil ports and ensures they are not used by the GNA. There are reports that Ibrahim Jodhran, who heads the Petroleum Facility Guards has been fired and replaced by a new HoR appointee. The GNC may be faced with a situation where the HoR government takes over more territory and gains control over more resources.