By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 1 February 2022:
Libya’s prospective prime ministerial candidates are to make presentations to parliament (the House of Representatives – HoR) next Monday and the HoR will choose Libya’s next interim Prime Minister the following day, Tuesday (8 February).
This was the decision made by the HoR during its official session yesterday.
According to HoR Official Spokesperson Abdalla Belheeg, the HoR’s Rapporteur’s Office will begin to receive the files of candidacy for the prime minister, and it will examine the files to ensure that they comply with the required conditions before receiving them.
The HoR’s Rapporteur’s Office will notify the Road Map Committee to consult with the High State Council to present the files to the HoR. Candidates will make their presentations next Monday 7 February and the following day (Tuesday, 8 February) the HoR will choose the new prime minister.
HoR insistent on replacing current caretaker Prime Minister
The decision means the HoR is insistent on replacing current caretaker Prime Minister Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba and enforcing its own interpretation of the Geneva Libyan Political Dialogue Forum’s (LPDF) agreement that selected Aldabaiba as Prime Minister.
This interpretation conflicts with that of UNSMIL and the international community who believe Aldabaiba should remain in office until an elected successor takes over. They do not want yet another unelected interim PM. They believe changing PM and government at this time could be destabilising.
Consequences of HoR choosing a new PM
The consequences of the HoR choosing a new PM will be divisive for Libyan politics. It is very unlikely that current PM Aldabaiba will give up his post. This could mean Libya will return to having two executives: one in the west and one in the east. The two executives could be mirrored by the emergence of parallel sovereign positions such as an alternative head of the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Investment Authority, GECOL, etc etc.
This will weaken Libya further, reduce the possibility of governments delivering the needed goods and services and open Libya further to corruption, lack of accountability, internal and external interference and instability.
Militia support in the west might be key?
If the newly chosen PM does not have militia support in western Libya, he will not be able to enter Tripoli let alone enforce his will.
However, if the new PM does have militia support in the west of Libya, especially if it is a Misratan such as former militia leader Fathi Bashagha, there is a chance the move can be pulled off.
Nevertheless, it is a risky move and at worse it could set off militias in a face-off against each other. But Bashagha can buy-off some of Tripoli’s militias by assuring them of becoming stakeholders and not net losers of the new political change. Bashagha’s alliance with Khalifa Hafter in the east could make his appointment plausible – risky but plausible.