By Moutaz Mathi.
Tripoli, 22 August 2016:
In a major blow to almost three years of efforts by the UN to stabilise Libya, the House of Representatives (HoR) today voted to reject the Government of National Accord proposed by the internationally-recognised Presidency Council led by Faiez Serraj.
However, it effectively accepted the Presidency Council, demanding that it submit a smaller one with just eight ministers within the next ten days. Moreover, according to Zliten member Ezzedden Gwereb, HoR president Salah Ageela, who had flown back from discussions in Uganda, called on Ali Gatrani and Omar Al-Aswad, the two boycotting members of the council, to rejoin it.
The vote, which had not been expected, was 61 against, 1 in favour and 12 abstentions. There had been 101 members who signed the attendance book before the session started, making it quorate, but there was a row when the Ageela Saleh announced that there would be a vote on the GNA. Several members claimed that it was not on the agenda and walked out before the vote.
Others who did not turn up to Tobruk, among them many of those who previously boycotted its sessions, have complained that they were not informed about the altered agenda and would have gone to Tobruk and vote had they been told.
They and those who walked out say that officially the agenda contained just two items – a number of HoR procedures and the proposed constitution from the Constitution Drafting Assembly.
According to Fathi Al-Marimi, Ageela Salah’s spokesman, the GNA vote was shifted from a former session and that this was a legitimate move.
Ironically, for the past eight months the HoR has studiously avoided making any decision on the GNA, mainly, it is claimed, because Ageela Saleh feared that it would be approved.
Although, under the Libyan Political Agreement approved by the UN Security Council, the HoR has the right to approve or disapprove the government, the vote creates yet further deep political uncertainty in Libya.
The Presidency Council now has to come up with a new list of ministers, but this is almost certainly going to pose massive problems for Serraj and the other members of the Presidency, not least because the now-rejected government was very much one which the powerful Misrata lobby approved.
The decision also throws into question all decisions taken by the GNA ministers such as the appointment by Madhi Al-Barghathi of Benghazi’s 204 Tank Brigade as the defence ministry’s main security force in the city.
The ministers were authorised by the Presidency Council to be in an acting capacity until an HoR vote. The HoR itself has now said that all their decisions are invalid.