By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 24 July:
The newly elected National Congress is to hold its inaugural session on 8 August according to sources in the NTC.
The first national task for the new legislature will be to appoint a new prime minister and cabinet. Whether it will do so at its first meeting is thought unlikely. The congress will initially have to set up its own operating procedures, elect a speaker/chairman as well as other officials and decide whether or not the prime minister and members of the new government should be members of the congress.
Meanwhile, it is reported that a number of independent members of the congress will meet in Tripoli on Wednesday night to discus views and strategies ahead of the opening session.
A ceremony involving both members of Congress and those of the NTC at which power will be formally handed over is to be held separately. It is expected to occur on 6 August. At that point the NTC will formally dissolve.
Earlier this month, on 11 July, just four days after the elections, NTC Deputy Chairman Salah Gnan said that the first meeting of the congress would be on 6 or 8 August.
His predicted timetable has proved accurate.
The congress was also supposed to appoint a 60-member commission to draw up a new constitution but the role was taken from it by the NTC just before the elections.
In a move to placate Cyrenaica federalists, the NTC decided that the commission should be directly elected, with equal representation from the three historic regions of the country. However, this has been seen by all sides as a meaningless gesture since the congress has been left with role of approving anything the commission proposes.
When he spoke on 11 July, Gnan also indicated that the NTC’s decision to directly elect the commission could be overturned by the new legislature.
“The congress will have the right to change all transitional decisions made by the NTC and work to oversee drafting the new constitution,” he said. “People with different ideologies in the legislative body will negotiate and share their ideas to establish the constitution.”