Monday, July 17, 2017

Mixed reactions in Libya for Presidency Council's head Faiez Serraj's call for elections next March

                                                       Faiez Serraj head of Presidential Council
Recently as part of his road map for peace,  head of the Presidential Council (PC) of the Government of  National Accord,  Faiez Serraj, said that there should be parliamentary and presidential elections next March. I discuss the entire road map in a recent article. While there has been strong support from some of the members of the High State Council of the GNA for Serraj's proposal, the House of Representatives members have been largely negative.

The speaker of the HoR Ageela Saleh dismissed the proposal in spite of the fact that he himself had called for elections next year. Saleh objects that Serraj has no legal powers to make such a call as he has not been appointed to such a role by the HoR. The HoR has not yet recognized the GNA in any event so naturally Serraj will be regarded as not having the status to call an election.

Ziyad Daghim, a member of the HoR from Benghazi said that Serraj's call for elections was fanciful and contradictory. He pointed out that for such an election to take place a two-thirds vote in favor of such action by the HoR would be required. In the present circumstances Daghim thought this impossible. Another member from Benghazi Essam al-Jahanni claimed the elections were a "sugar-coated bomb" that was aimed at Haftar's Libyan National Army that would lead the company to disaster.

Another HoR member, Abu Bakr Buera claimed that the proposal was unworkable. He said the proposal would soon be forgotten. He said that proposal showed that earlier efforts at conciliation by the UAE and others to mediate between Serraj and Haftar had failed. Buera claimed that to resolve the crisis joint efforts by the HoR, PC, and armed forces were required. Presumably he means Haftar's Libyan National Army by the "armed forces". Other HoR members claimed that security conditions made elections impossible for now. Some saw the proposal as coming from the Muslim Brotherhood, a group reviled by those loyal to Haftar. One of the few HoR members who praised the plan was Mohamed Raied from Misrata who called the plan excellent.

The elections would have repercussions for the HoR as there would be legislative elections but the members of  State HIgh Council would remain safe in their seats. This might explain why most members supported Serraj's plan. However, some members such as Nuri Elabbar who was former head of the High National Elections Committee did have concerns about the security situation making free elections difficult if not impossible. He noted that security would need to be guaranteed and well funded. Local organizations would have to cooperate in facilitating the elections. As with members of the HoR, Elabbar had concerns about the legitimacy of  holding the vote asking: Would it come from a vote to amend the Constitutional Declaration by the HoR? Was it based on the authority of the Libyan Political Agreement? And would the State Council have to be involved in the decision? He had no answer for his own questions.

Aref Nayed, of the Libyan Institute for Advanced Studies, and former Libyan ambassador to the UAE welcomed the call for elections but said they should occur in five months time on the 17th of December. In a letter to the new Libyan special envoy, Ghassan Salame, Nayed said that fresh elections would renew the legitimacy of  Libya's legislative and executive institutions. However, he claimed, some of the proposals in the Serraj's road map would prevent polls from actually taking place.

Nayad proposes that the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, along with the Arab League and the African Union, help organize parliamentary and presidential election by the 17th of December. He  sets this date because this is the deadline Haftar set for a political solution and is the date upon which he claims the Libya Political Agreement expires. The elections avoid a political vacuum. Others do not think the time period for the agreement begins until the HoR accepts the political agreement. It is not clear that either the HoR or the PC and GNA would accept these arrangements. Many would see the elections as being organized by outsiders to satisfy their interests. After all the talk of the LPA being the basis for any agreement this plan appears to be a substitution for an LPA that expires!

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