By Libya Herald staff.
Tunis, 10 July 2015:
Four members of the House of Representatives (HoR) who have been boycotting its proceedings and . . .[restrict]who are delegates to the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue in Skhirat, Morocco, have told UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon that General Khalifa Hafter must have no role in Libya once a Government of National Accord has been set up.
In a letter dated 7 July but only made public today, Naeem Al-Gheriany (representing Gharyan), Mustafa Abushagur (Suq Al-Juma), Fathi Bashagha and Sulaiman Al-Faqih (both Misrata) said that while they basically supported the latest Draft from Leon, it still needed some changes. One was that while it dealt with the appointment of a number of sovereign positions in the state (such as the governor of the Central Bank and the Head of the Audit Bureau, there was no mention of the Chairman of the General Staff of the Armed Forces or the General Commander of the Libyan Army.
The latter was “superfluous”, the four HoR members said. It has been set up specifically to give to Hafter and was incompatible with the position of Chairman of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. It was a potential source of serious conflict and “should be abolished”.
The fact that the position had not been mentioned alongside other leading sovereign positions was a source of grave concern to many Libyans, they claimed.
Refering to Hafter as a “renegade”, they said his appointment as the General Commander of the Libyan Army and the controversy surrounding him had to be addressed by the Libya Dialogue. He was responsible for “most of the current armed conflict in Libya since launching his military operation in Benghazi in May 2014”, they claimed. “His acts of aggression over the past year and a half have constituted a major obstacle to peace in Libya,” they stated, adding that he should be a primary candidates for UN sanctions.
Most Libyans, they stated, regarded Hafter as one of the most serious threats to the revolution and to hopes of forging a viable political process. They believed that many, particularly in the west of the country, rejected his continued presence in any political process and would never accept an agreement that saw him as General Commander.
By not addressing him in the political Dialogue shackled the National Accord Government and the future House of Representatives because neither would be able to remove him from his current position as General Commander.
“Hafter is simply too contentious and polarizing a figure in Libya, and his involvement could very well propel the country into full-fledged civil war,” they declared. “Moreover, we fear that his heavy handed tactics will also prove counter-productive, and that he will succeed only in pushing even more young people toward extreme positions.”
Moreover, they claimed, the issue was already being exploited by those who did not want the Dialogue and the Draft to succeed.
Hafter could not be ignored and the issue had to be resolved, they insisted – indicating that it should be resolved in the Draft.
Furthermore they added, the Chairman of the General Staff “must fall under the direct authority of the Minister of Defence, both to avert any potential problems between the military and the civilian government and to ensure civilian control of the military”.
Other issues of concern with the Draft mentioned by the four were the fact that there was the absence of “a definitive road map” for convening the complete HoR and addressing the concerns of the boycotting members, and of an explicit role for the State Council in the withdrawal of confidence from the government.
In the original Draft Four, it was proposed that a no-confidence motion in the government would require a two-thirds majority in both the HoR and the State Council to succeed. In the amended version, the role of the State Council was reduced to being consulted by the HoR, with the majority there increased to 150.
The change, the four complained, made “withdrawing confidence from the government virtually impossible for the HoR. Leon, they said, should go back to the original figure.
In fact, making it “virtually impossible” for a no-confidence motion to succeed was the whole point of the amendment, one western ambassador involved in the Skhirat negotiations told the Libya Herald recently. “It needs to be very difficult to bring down the government, otherwise the HoR will do it at the first hurdle. Libya can’t afford that,” he said.
However, the four delegates were evidently not going with this. In their letter, they said that if this matter and the position of Hafter were not addressed, there would be insufficient public support for the Draft and they themselves would “reserve the right to have our original preconditions addressed before agreeing to join the House meetings”.
These preconditions are that the meetings of the HoR be moved to a venue agreeable to all members, the re-election of the President and Deputy Presidents of the HoR and reorganisation of its committees, a review of all prior legislation, decisions and appointments, and amendments to the HoR rules of procedure.
In fact a review of existing House decisions is envisaged in the Draft while its location is expected to be addressed as soon as somewhere else, preferably Benghazi, is considered safe. Moreover, if the boycotters turn up, there could well be a majority for a Presidency re-elections and for rules of procedure to be re-assessed. [/restrict]