By Sami Zaptia
Tripoli, 8 May 2014:
Libya’s faltering political process has reached new low depths this afternoon after the . . .[restrict]First Deputy head of the General National Council (GNC) stood-by his decision to declare Prime Minister-elect Ahmed Maetig unelected.
Speaking live on TV in a press conference this afternoon, Ezzidden Al-Awami, insisted that he had acted correctly and had followed the GNC’s internal regulations when he had correctly closed the voting session that had failed to give a vote of confidence to Prime Minister elect Ahmed Maetig.
Going through the procedures and repeating the events of the session, Awami said that as far as he was concerned Maetig had only obtained 113 votes – leaving him 7 short of the required 120 votes needed to become Prime Minister elect. He was adamant that he had followed proper GNC procedure.
Awami was very critical of both his superior and GNC head Nuri Abusahmain and the Second Deputy head Salah Makhzoum. He crticiced them for the actions that they had taken following the ending of the GNC voting session, saying that their actions were illegal, in his opinion.
He was particularly critical of the fact that the government had received “two contradictory letters” from the GNC, on the same day. “The government should not have been put in that situation”, he lamented.
Awami criticized the Second Deputy head Salah Mahkzoum for not “supporting” and “standing by” his decision and further criticized him for reopening the voting session and adding further votes to reach the required 120 votes of confidence needed by Maetig to become PM elect.
Awami paid tribute to the “youthful” Maetig indicating that he has absolutely nothing against the man, but that simply the GNC election process was flawed. Awami said that the problem was both a “political and legal” one. He added that whilst the political problem would probably be solved soon within and by the GNC, the legal issue of the vote would need legal advice.
Awami indicated that he was aware that the “government” was already seeking legal advice on the vote process.
It will be recalled that on 4th May the GNC had failed to elect an outright winner from the two candidates in its first morning session.
During the second session at lunch time, the GNC held a vote of confidence in Ahmed Maetig, who had won the most votes in the morning session.
However, during the session, transmitted live on air, Maetig could only gather 113 votes – leaving him 7 short of the 120 votes needed.
Chairing the session in the absence of Nuri Abusahmain who was on “medical leave”, Awami closed the session, to the clearly visible displeasure of many GNC members.
Numerous GNC members then proceeded to surround Awami in a rowdy scene which led to TV transmission being cut. Unofficial footage was later leaked on Facebook showing that GNC members had attempted to force a continuation of the vote.
The whole affair is yet another poor reflection of the state of affairs of Libya’s political institutions, and specifically the unpopular and ineffective GNC. It also lays wide open for all to see the wide splits within the GNC which with this episode have reached open warfare between the three leaders of the GNC: Abusahmain, Awami and Makhzoum.
In practical terms, this will probably mean that Al-Thinni will continue in his caretaker Prime Minister role while the GNC and the courts sort out the legality of the Maetig vote.
Once a ruling is made, the GNC can move on to either continue with Maetig or repeat the vote of confidence process, or start a whole new process of attempting to elect a new Prime Minister.
The worse case scenario is that Al-Thinni will continue as caretaker Prime Minister until and beyond the forthcoming House of Representatives elections slated for June, but more likely after the fasting month of Ramadan.