By Libya Herald reporter.
Tobruk, 25 January 2016:
Meeting today in Tobruk, the House of Representatives (HoR) gave preliminary conditional approval to the . . .[restrict]Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) but rejected the 32-ministry government selected last Tuesday by the Presidency Council. However, in a move indicating its acceptance of the Council, it also called on Ali Gatrani and Omar Al-Aswad, who suspended their membership last week, to rejoin it.
The vote in favour of the LPA was conditional on the removal of Article 8 of its supplementary provisions added before the signing at Skhirat last month. It reads:
All powers of the senior military, civil and security posts stipulated in the Libyan legislations and laws in force shall be transferred to the Presidency Council of the Council of Ministers immediately upon signing this Agreement. The Presidency Council must take a decision on the occupants of such posts within a period that does not exceed twenty (20) days.
The article is seen as affecting in particular the position of General Khalifa Hafter, appointed by the HoR as head of the Libyan armed forces.
There were 97 votes in favour of the LPA but deleting Supplementary Article 8, out of the 104 members attending today’s session. When it came to the 32-minister government, 89 voted against it. The move had been expected, with several political figures and organisations rejecting, based on the way it was selected and its size. HoR members now want a slimmed-down crisis government, along the lines of that proposed by Aswad.
The vote means that the Presidency Council will now have to submit a new list of ministries and ministers to the HoR or try to get it to change its mind about the current 32-ministry proposal.
There would have been 114 members at the session. Ten boycotting members including former deputy prime minister Mustafa Abushagur and Misratan businessman Mohamed Mohamed Raied flew to Tobruk to take part – the first time they had done so since attending the opening session in August 2014 – but their plane arrived late and there were unable to join in.
They are expected, however, talk part in tomorrow’s session at which an amendment to the 2011 Constitutional Declaration, effectively Libya’s interim constitution, is to be debated.
A change is required for the Presidency Council to be legitimised and the LPA to become part of Libyan law.
Yesterday, in a letter to HoR president Ageel Salah, Gatrani had urged the parliament to reject the proposed government, insisting that that it has been formed illegitimately.
He clamed that that its selection had violated article no. 1 in the clause no. (2) of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) which states that the formation of the government be based on the basis of “competency and equal opportunity”. Also he claimed it is formation has violated the article no. (2) of the clause no. (3) of the agreement. It reads clause reads:
The assigned Prime Minister and his deputies shall select the ministers based on agreement between them and after convening a consultation session with members of the Libyan Political Dialogue specifically for this purpose. If their unanimity is not achieved during the first and second voting, the decision shall be taken in the third voting through the majority of the members of the Presidency Council of the Council of Ministers.
It is debatable whether there was a second or third session, or merely just one prolonged session.
In addition to the letter, Gatrani also met both Salah and Hafter in Marj yesterday to discuss the proposed government and the LPA. The pro-HoR office of the Libyan news agency LANA reported that they also discussed the possibility of supporting the “Libya-Libya” dialogue initiated by the Tripoli-based General National Congress.
In the case of Aswad, the Libya Herald has been told by a source close to him that he would respond to the HoR’s call for him and Gatrani to rejoin the Council once he had received an official statement from it.
Meanwhile, it is by no means certain that the necessary amendment to the Constitutional Declaration incorporating the LPA into Libya law will be approved by the HoR.
To amend the Declaration will require 126 votes. So far there are 114 members in Tobruk, but not all are in favour. There are 11 other boycotters who last October said they approved the LPA and the Presidency Council who could join in. But that still will not be enough to approve the LPA.
With additional reporting from Saber Ayyun in Tripoli [/restrict]