Septuagenarian able to disrupt meetings of the Libyan House of Representatives

Locals talk of Faraj Al-Obaidi, in his seventies, as the unelected member of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives. He can roam at will in the parliament halls without any restrictions.

Al-Obaidi claims that the Dar Al-Salam Hotel, which is used as the meeting place for the HoR, is his, since it was built on his land. Al-Obaidi is known as one of the senior elders in the eastern area of Libya known as Cyrenaica. He appears able to disrupt meetings at any time, but members welcome him because of his influence and followers in Tobruk. Al-Obaidi is a strong supporter of General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA).
He has often interfered in meetings as can be seen on this video, from November 2015. This was a debate on signing the draft of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) which would eventually be signed on December 17th as the Skhirat agreement. The HoR did not sign it. Faraj threatened to gun down MP's if they signed the agreement. Other Tobruk elders managed to calm him down and remove him.
This Monday Faraj was at it again, threatening force if members approved the GNA. The Monday meeting did not result in a vote and there was no vote on Tuesday either. The Libya Observer notes that tribalism has deep roots in Libya politics. Tribal elders have considerable influence on politics. The paper notes that last week Al-Tayeb Al-Safi, who was a Gaddafi henchmen, returned to Tobruk from exile and immediately was protected by his tribe. In January, spokesperson for Haftar and the Dignity Operation, Mohammed Al-Hijazi defected and was highly critical of Haftar. Haftar has not moved against him as he is protected by his tribe.
After Tuesday's meeting a committee of six from each side met to work out an agreement. It was thought that there could be an agreement and meeting as early as today but a tweet indicates it will not happen: "Tobruk Parliament was unable to meet Thursday due to spoilers."
A cartoon and statue featuring Obaidi can be found here. The appended video shows a demonstration against LPA signed in Skhirat on December 17th. The caption saying the LPA was agreed to by the two parliaments is wrong. Neither parliament signed, just unauthorized members of each. The demonstration was on December 19th.
It is puzzling that this old man with a cane is able to disrupt meetings of the HoR in the face of over a hundred members supposedly anxious to vote for the GNA. Given that the HoR cannot even meet safely in Tobruk what will happen when it moves to Tripoli as the legislature of the GNA?


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