By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 28 August:
After weeks of what seemed like an official information vacuum, the General National Congress (GNC) finally elected . . .[restrict]– broadcast live on TV – an official spokesperson last Sunday night.
Mr Omar Hmaidan, GNC member for Zlitan and member of Mahmoud Jibril’s National Forces Alliance (NFA) took a few sentences to get over his press conference debut nerves before clicking into gear.
‘We have postponed the discussion on our internal rules and regulations due to the current situation’, he opened to the gathered members of the press.
Referring to the ‘current situation’ or the Tripoli car bomb incidents on the first day of Eid and the destruction of mosques by Salifists, he informed that the GNC had ‘called in the government yesterday (Saturday 25 August ) for clarifications on the security situation’.
Resigned or not resigned?
By the government spokesperson Hmaidan was referring to the apparently heated closed session debate held with Interior Minister Fawzi Abdelal and as a result of which Abdelal subsequently announced his resignation from his post to the media.
On the matter of the Interior Minister’s resignation, spokesperson Hmaidan insisted that as far as the Prime Minister was concerned, the Minister had as yet to hand-in his official resignation. Hmaidan admitted that the GNC had first heard of the matter via the media.
When pushed further on the resignation matter by the media, Hmaidan conceded that if the Minister should resign, it should not be a major issue as ‘Libya is now a state of institutions and so the resignation of one person should not be a problem’.
The role of the SSC
‘Today’, Hmaidan continued, ‘we sought further clarifications from Prime Minister Al-Kib, as well as the Ministry of Defence and Chief of Staff on the role of the Supreme Security Committee (SSC) as the main instrument of security’.
‘During this debate we were surprised to receive a communication from the SSC expressing their unhappiness at our discussion of them and their role. We saw it as our responsibility to enquire about the security situation and the role of the SSC in it and to hold it accountable to the Libyan public. It should not be taken as insult when the GNC questions any department. That is our role’, he emphasized.
‘We were then informed that a source at the SSC called upon its members to withdraw from their positions – an order that was not officially sanctioned by the appropriate authorities.’
Hmaidan then went on to confirm and emphasize that SSC personnel had not withdrawn from their positions and that anyone who is proved to have given out such unofficial instructions will be held accountable.
When forced by the press to comment directly on the SSC member who had made the withdrawal announcement, the spokesperson said that ‘Ibrahim Sarkasiya should accept responsibility for what he had said during the earlier press conference…that the SSC will withdraw from its positions’.
In a very confused and confusing day, the usual official spokesperson for the SSC, Abdulmenom al-Hur had revealed earlier in the day live on local TV that Sarkasiya ‘had no authority as head of departments to speak officially on behalf of the SSC’, and that the content of his statement did not reflect SSC policy.
Spokesperson Hmaidan then made a point of thanking the SSC for its security work. ‘We compliment the SSC and the role that it has played in the security situation in Libya, but we must also insist on our role to question and hold accountable any executive department’.
The destruction of mosques and heritage sites
Regarding the destruction of mosques and heritage sites carried out by extremists and Salafists, spokesperson Hmaidan said that ‘the GNC supports freedom of thought, but does not support anyone group imposing its views on others. We condemn this action of the destruction of sites’.
Asked what action the GNC and the government will take, the spokesperson said that ‘we will hold those responsible accountable. We respect that they have a different ideology or interpretation, but their actions are against the law’.
Criminalizing the holding of arms?
Asked if the GNC was pushing for the criminalizing of the carrying of arms on the streets except for those authorized security personnel, the spokesperson said that that needed to be part of a wider policy and reconciliation drive.
Will Al-Kib remain as Prime Minister?
Asked if the GNC was inclined to retain the current Prime Minister Al-Kib in his position, the spokesperson said that the GNC had not started to debate the choice of the next PM or government yet.
The Kib government has a caretaker role only
The spokesperson went on to reveal that the GNC had confirmed to PM Kib that his government is to continue in a role as a caretaker government and that it should not initiate new policy.
The trail of Saif Qaddafi?
Asked about the various conflicting stories about the date and place of a possible trail of Saif Qaddafi, spokesperson Hmaidan said that the GNC had not discussed the matter at all.
The GNC’s inability to respond quickly to events on the ground?
Asked about the GNC’s apparent inability to respond quickly to evens on the ground, the spokesperson insisted that until the GNC got its internal house in order by passing its internal rules and regulations, it will not be able to function efficiently.
The spokesperson then called upon the Libyan public to put their trust in the GNC and understand and accept the situation that it finds itself in and is forced to work in
The pro-Qaddafi TV channels broadcasting from Egypt?
Asked about pro-Qaddafi TV channel/s broadcasting from Egypt via Nilesat and what was the GNC’s response to them, spokesperson Hmaidan confirmed that this issue had been discussed in the GNC’s morning session and that Prime Minister Kib had confirmed that discussions with Egyptian Prime Minister Mursy were ongoing.
Drafting the Constitution?
Asked about the deadline for selecting the ‘Committee of 60’ for the drafting the constitution, spokesperson Hmaidan confirmed that the GNC had not started dealing with the matter yet.