Libya Herald reporter.
Malta, 14 February 2015:
Mosab Al-Abed, Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Defence and National Security Committee, told Libya . . .[restrict]Herald that the House was not about to appoint Khalifa Hafter the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Al-Abed was speaking on the background of increasing reports that HoR President Agheela Salah was considering taking the unilateral decision of appointing Hafter Supreme Commander of the Libyan National Army.
The leadership of the HoR had been given the power to act as Supreme Commander of the Libyan Armed Forces, however, Al-Abed pointed out that this power was granted to the leadership as a whole, meaning the President and his two Deputies, and not exclusively to Salah.
Moreover, Al-Abed also points out that the power was granted for a limited period of three months – a time frame that has now elapsed.
Al-Abed was also keen to point out that the HoR and his Defence and National Security Committee were determined that there is civilian oversight on Libya’s post 17 February 2011 army, and that the new democratically accountable army is headed by a civilian.
Furthermore, he pointed out that in reality such a position does not actually currently exist and that it would have to be created. Equally, he pointed out that Hafter is now aged 74 and that again under existing laws he could not hold the position of Supreme Commander of the Libyan National Army. The laws would have to be amended so as to appoint him, he explained.
Several hundred demonstrators had gathered in Benghazi on Friday demanding the creation of a military council to be headed by General Khalifa Hafter.
In what was seen as a co-ordinated move by Hafter supporters, there were similar demonstrations in Beida and Tobruk as well.
The Cyrenaica protests indicate that the growing rift between Hafter and Thinni has not been bridged despite efforts by House of Representatives’ President Ageela Saleh Gwaider.
In the HoR itself, it estimated that around 40 members support Hafter and want Thinni to go, but they remain a minority. The majority want to keep Thinni, at least for the time being, despite complaints that the government is weak. Gwaider himself is reported to be sympathetic to Hafter but likewise accepts that this is not the time to change administrations.
The head of the HoR was in Beida this week trying to patch up differences between the prime minister and the general. The meeting resulted in what is being viewed as a compromise – the decision to sack Interior Minister Omar Sinki [/restrict]