By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 17 July 2017:
There has been mixed reaction to the call by Presidency Council leader Faiez Serraj for parliamentary and presidential elections in March next year.
There has been strong support for it from members of the State Council, but from the House of Representatives (HoR), the response has been largely negative.
HoR president Ageela Saleh was among the first to dismiss it, although last April he himself had called for elections next year. His objection in this case was that Serraj has no legal powers to make such a call, on the basis that he has never been appointed to any role by the HoR.
Describing the call as contradictory and fanciful, Benghazi member Ziyad Daghim, who is vice-chairman of the federal bloc, likewise said that the Presidency Council had no legality. He further pointed out that for such elections to take place, it would require a two-thirds vote by the HoR; in the present circumstances that was impossible, he said.
For Essam Al-Jahani, also representing Benghazi, Serraj’s initiative was a “sugar-coated bomb” aimed at the Libyan National Army which would lead the country to disaster.
Their colleague Abu Bakr Buera, who was one of the HoR’s original members of the UN-brokered dialogue team, likewise said it was unworkable. It would soon be forgotten, he believed, adding that the fact that Serraj had made the call was proof that the earlier efforts by the UAE and Libya’s neighbours to mediate between him and Khalifa Hafter had failed. To resolve the Libyan crisis would require the joint efforts of the armed forces, the HoR and the Presidency Council. All three were party to the crisis.
Other HoR members lined up to condemn the call. Saleh Fhaima (Sidra) questioned whether the election results would be accepted, stating that before any polls could take place the security problem had to be resolved. Abdulraouf Al-Manaie (Abu Sleem) similarly questioned Serraj’s legal power to make such a call.
Others complained that the proposal had the fingerprints of the Muslim Brotherhood over it. It was aimed purely at keeping Serraj and others such as Central Bank of Libya governor Sadek Elkabber in power, they claimed.
One of the few HoR members to publicly give full support for Serraj’s move was Misrata member Mohamed Raied. Describing it as “excellent”, he said that elections would break the political stalemate.
However, holding elections at present would be difficult, he admitted, calling on the HoR and the State Council to set up a joint committee as a first step to resolving the crisis.
From the State Council (SC), the tone was almost universally supportive – perhaps reflecting the fact that Serraj’s call for elections does not affect it, but just the HoR.
Belgassem Igzeit described it as “the only way to resolve the political crisis affecting the country”. Other SC members such as Wahid Burshan and Ahmed Langhi, also welcomed the initiative.
Concerns about holding elections at present, however, were raised by Nuri Elabbar, the former head of the High National Elections Commission and a member of UNSMIL’s dialogue team. Security would have to be guaranteed, the process would have to be fully funded and a range of local organisations would have to be willing to cooperate.
He also wanted to know there the legitimacy for holding such a vote would come from. Would it come from a vote to amend the Constitutional Declaration by the HoR? Was it based on the authority of the Libyan Political Agreement? And would the State Council have to be involved in the decision?
He had no answers.