By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 2 February 2016:
Media reports that Nuri Abi Sahmain, the president of the General National Congress (GNC), was . . .[restrict]elected third vice-chairperson of the African Union by heads of state and government attending the African Summit in Addis Ababa on Saturday has been cause for unexpected joy among his band of supporters in Tripoli. At it meeting today, the GNC, according to its website, said it “welcomes the selection of GNC President as the Third Deputy President of African Union, as reported in the news, even though, the GNC has not been officially informed yet about this selection [sic]”.
Had the GNC checked the African Union’s website, it would have discovered the story was not quite as imagined. The person chosen as third vice-chairperson was Abu Sahmain’s rival, House of Representatives president Ageela Salah.
The initial mistake appears to have been the result of some sloppy reporting which was then repeated elsewhere, including in Tripoli.
Even so, the choice of Ageela Salah as third cice-chairperson for 2016 – a largely symbolic position – has raised eyebrows since the job of chairperson and first, second, third and fourth deputy chairpersons usually goes to heads of state, not speakers or presidents of national parliaments. Under the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA), which the AU signed up to at the Rome meeting on Libyan in December, the closest Libya has to a head of state is the Presidency Council, and the man heading it is Faiez Serraj.
The timing of the choice is also seen as strange since the AU has make it clear that, like the UN, it wants to see the LPA implemented as soon as possible.
The new chairperson of the AU is President Idriss Deby of Chad while the first vice-chairperson is President Yayi Bony Thomas of Benin. Sandwiching Ageela in his third position are two of Africa’s political heavyweights: President Paul Kagame as second vice chairperson and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe as fourth. [/restrict]