By George Grant.
Tripoli, 14 October:
The race for prime minister has narrowed to just two candidates: Ali Zidan, the former independent congressman . . .[restrict]for Juffra, and Mohamed Al-Harari, the current minister for local government.
The two men were selected this morning after Abdulhamid Al-Nahmi failed to gain the requisite 40 signatures from Congress members to proceed, whilst Dabbashi, who is still in New York, withdrew for other reasons.
Only Harari and Zidan made candidacy presentations to Congress today.
“The truth is, nobody actually wants this job”, one source close to proceedings told the Libya Herald. “They saw what happened to Abushagur and they see it as a poisoned chalice.
“It will be nothing but attacks from all sides for the next 12 months.”
Also becoming apparent is the fact that Zidan is far less certain to take the top-job than previously thought.
“At first, most people in Congress supported him, which is why he was encouraged to run”, said another source.
“Now, however, after people looked a bit more closely, some are not so sure”.
It is understood that Zidan’s aloof style and apparent reservations about even taking the job are causing some hitherto supportive Congress members to waver. Following the entry of Harari into the race, many Muslim Brotherhood members in Congress also concluded that he would be their preferred choice.
Last night, the Libya Herald was informed that the Justice & Construction party had decided to support Harari, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, in a closed meeting.
“We think he is the right man for the job, ideologically and politically”, said Amna Entair, J&C member for Sirte.
It is believed that Zidan still enjoys support amongst the NFA, although it is by no means assured that the either the J&C or the alliance will stick together as a group.
As ever, the voting intentions of the independents within Congress will be crucial. Thus far, the Workers group, a bloc of around 20 independents, has indicated it will be supporting Zidan, and the Southern group, said to have 31 members, is also believed to be broadly in the Zidan camp.
The National Agreement group, a bloc of around 26 members is understood to be divided whilst the fourth non-party bloc in Congress, the National Independent group, which has 35 members, will only meet to decide who to support at 6pm today.
A recurrent theme of all recent elections within this Congress, however, has been the discrepancy between how members say they will vote and how they subsequently do.
The vote is scheduled to take place this evening, around 7:30pm.