By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 25 February 2013:
In what has proved to be one of the most fiery sessions to date held by . . .[restrict]the GNC, a nascent body which in its brief history has experienced many a heated session, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan was subjected to a torturous question and answer session yesterday.
Anger at the GNC had been mounting for weeks, exacerbated by the occupation of its chamber by the 30-odd war injured amputees. The GNC has struggled to remove the protestors. They have been negotiating with them for a fortnight offering all sorts of benefits and financial inducements, without success.
Last week the GNC lost its patience, having grown weary of attempting to conduct its affairs in the cramped and inappropriate conference rooms of the adjoining Rixos hotel.
They therefore passed a law last week ordering the forceful removal of the protestors from the chamber.
However, the GNC, to their dismay and anger, found that they could not get any executive branch of the government to execute this law, including the Ministry of Interior.
Yesterday, the GNC called Prime Minister Zeidan in for questioning, and GNC members took advantage of his presence to quiz him over many contentious issues – including his government’s inability to provide adequate security for the nation’s legislature.
Numerous GNC members have been calling for Zeidan to be called in for questioning – but the Prime Minister has been protected by his GNC allies – including its believed GNC head Mohamed Magarief. This week, a majority had decided enough was enough, and even Magarief was unable to shield his decades-old companion from the days of the Libyan embassy in India.
Much of what was directed at the Prime Minister was acceptable. However, it was the tone and anger with which the question and answer session was conducted and directed at the Prime Minister that was heated and passionate. The anger was also between GNC members during a somewhat roudy session.
Not for the first time, the GNC has been feeling public pressure mounting as the nation grows tired of the slow pace of reform.
The Zeidan government, led by its “crises management” approach, a term bandied about liberally by its Deputy Prime Minister Awad Barasi, has promised much action. It has hinged much on its forthcoming LD 66 billion budget and “local government” solution.
And therein lies one of its problems. The GNC was right in the middle of debating the budget when it was stormed and occupied again by protestors – despite ostensibly being guarded by armed guards.
Armed guards that are very adept at manhandling and refusing entry to the media – but not to fellow thuwar (militiamen/ex-fighters), it seems.
The protestors stopped the budget debate dead as the GNC waited for the protestors to be evicted. Yet while the protestors sat around like boy scouts on the chamber floor making unlimited demands, they failed to see that passing the budget was instrumental to funding some of their and indeed the nation’s demands.
GNC member Nizar Kawan for one said that “we called the Prime Minister in for questioning to explain the absence of his Ministry of Interior and its failure to provide security to the GNC”.
Others were less circumspect. Congressman Mohamed Zarug for example, took Zeidan to task on his visit to the Paris conference. Indicating that Zeidan had not consulted the GNC prior to attending the conference and making deals without consultation. Zeidan promptly promised a report on the conference to the GNC.
Zeidan was also taken to task for his “attempt to circumvent the GNC” over the Local Government Law. In short, the GNC wants local government heads to be elected. Zeidan feels it would be too time consuming and divisive at such a critical time for his government.
He wants to appoint the heads on a temporary basis. He sees a strong local government leader as key to his government’s ability to deliver the budget and services to the regions – and therefore negate the political call for federalism.
The battle of wills continues between the GNC and the government and the passage of the budget and its effective disbursement could prove the making or the downfall of the Zeidan government.
There are many GNC members ready to make Zeidan the fall guy if things start to deteriorate. The 2013 budget is with the specialised GNC committees. They cannot afford, for their and the nation’s sake, take too long in studying it. [/restrict]