By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 28 July:
It is reported that broad agreement been reached by a powerful block of members of the newly-elected . . .[restrict]National Congress that Libya’s next prime minister should come from the east of the country. It is also agreed that chairman/speaker of the congress come from the west or south.
Members of the Congress (MCs) who were elected on the independent ticket and who are unconnected to either Mahmoud Jibril’s National Forces Alliance or the Islamist grouping around the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party, together with members of smaller parties such as the National Front or the Union for Homeland, have been holding a series of meetings in the past few days on the issue. With over half the total number of seats in the congress, this “third force” is seen as kingmaker in the process.
“It’s agreed that the leader of the government should come from the east and the head of the congress from the west,” Abdurrahman Sewehli, leader of the Union for Homeland, told Libya Herald. He was elected on the party list system in Misrata.
It is felt that if the prime minister is from the east, he said, it will help address the east’s complaint that it has been ignored.
According to Ahmed Langhi, one of the independent MCs representing Benghazi, the idea of having the prime minister from the east and the congress chairman from elsewhere in the country has not been officially agreed but most members of the congress think it a “good idea”. That includes Mahmoud Jibril, whom he saw this morning, Saturday, to discuss a number of issues, and the Justice and Construction Party.
According to Sewehli, names on the table for the post of prime minister include those of Electricity Minister Awad Barasi and Saad Aghila. The 46-year-old Barasi, who was appointed minister last November, comes from Benghazi. Other sources confirm that he is being supported for the job. Aghila is the judge who heads Benghazi’s north court. He is involved in the investigation into the killing of Abdul Fatah Younis who was killed a year ago today.
Another name being mentioned for the job in the past couple of day by some MCs is that of Salah Ajouda who was also elected as an independent in Benghazi. He is extremely popular in the city, topping the list of 248 candidates in the elections and winning more than 40,000 votes — more than any other candidate in the country.
There are, however, questions about his experience. A former dissident who spent many years in the US, he is seen to lack political acumen by some. “He is more social than political”, said businessman Hani Benali from Benghazi. “He knows how to talk to people.” It is being rumoured too that Ajouda is supported by Qatar.
Nonethless, the suggestion of Ajouda is significant. It has future constitutional implications. It indicates that the MCs expect the prime minister to be a member of the Congress rather than an outsider merely appointed by them, as would be the case if Barasi were chosen.
As to a possible chairman of the congress, several names area being suggested. These include those of Sewehli, National Front leader Muhammad Yusuf Magarief, Ali Zidan and Juma Ateega, who like Sewehli was elected in Misrata.
Zidan, who represents Jufra in the south, appears to be the front runner according to both a number of MCs and diplomats in Tripoli. He had a major role introducing the NTC to the world at the beginning of the revolution and than became the NTC’s representative in Europe. As such he could be a bridging figure between the old NTC and the new congress.
Magarief has the problem that he is from the east and represents Ajdabiya. If the prime minister is also from the east, that would rule him out. Ateega is said to be too liberal for the Islamists. But then Zidan could be said to be that as well. [/restrict]