By Callum Paton.
Tripoli, 22 June 2014:
The First Deputy President of Congress, Ezzeddin Al-Awami, has apologised to the Libyan . . .[restrict]people for the failings of the General National Congress (GNC). Speaking of “our mistakes”, he said the elections to the House of Representatives were the “only way out of the political crisis in Libya”.
The surprise apology came while he was speaking yesterday evening at a ceremony to mark to start of the House of Representatives elections. They began yesterday with Libyans voting in 13 countries abroad. The apology drew applause from those attending the event.
Libyans had developed “reservations” about the democratic process as a result of Congress’ behaviour, Awami admitted. He hoped that, nonetheless, Libyans would go out and vote on Wednesday. It was “a great opportunity to remedy and amend what went wrong”, he said. It was his hope that “the new House of Representatives will enjoy every success and learn from the mistakes of the GNC”.
Awami played a pivotal role in the country’s recent political crisis over the controversial appointment by Congress of Ahmed Maetiq as prime minister at the beginning of May. He had chaired the first session which failed to raise the necessary quorum to make the appointment and had stood his ground after the disputed second session, rejecting Maetig’s appointment and telling Abdullah Al-Thinni to remain in post as caretake prime minister.
The manner of Maetig’s election to the premiership and subsequent wrangling in Congress while Benghazi burned and clashes erupted in Tripoli eroded what little goodwill remained for the GNC.
Awami also said the decision to locate the new House of Representatives in Benghazi sent a message to the world. “When we have security problems in some cities we face these problems,” he said. “When we legislate to have the House of Representatives in Benghazi it shows we are ready to fight terrorism.”
He later told the Libya Herald he hoped his apology would restore some faith in the democratic process and added that the elections showed how far Libya had progressed. He said the ability to apologise and acknowledge the mistakes of the past was one of the benefits of the revolution.
The Ministers of Culture and of Communications as well as Prime Ministerial spokesman Ahmed Al-Lamin and Second Deputy President of the GNC, Salah Makhzoum who had been at loggerheads with Awami over the Maetig appointment were present at the conference, as were HNEC commissioners and staff.
HNEC Chairman Emad Al-Sayeh said elections would take place because of “the will of those who wish to see peace in Libya. He said elections to the House of Representatvies had been subject to political infighting in the run-up to polling day and said “we hope in the future elections will be given priority. Recent events have proved that we will go to the ballot box when all other roads to dialogue have been blocked”.