By Muttaz Mohamed Ali and Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 3 April 2014:
There is still no consensus in Congress on whether to . . .[restrict]formally appoint a new prime minister in succession to Ali Zeidan and who that should be, or continue with Abdullah Al-Thinni until the new House of Representatives takes its seat and then appoints its own head of government.
Abdullah Al-Thinni’s second fortnight in office as temporary prime minister is supposed to end next Tuesday.
Over the past few days, it has been reported that out of the 17 names suggested as prime minister, three easterners had emerged as front runners – academic Omar Al-Hassi from Shahat, head of the Civil Registry Mohamed Abu Baker from Benghazi and former Interior Minister Ashour Shuwail from Beida. It has also been reported that there is growing consensus around Hassi, although his chances appear to now be suffering because of perceptions that he is the Islamist candidate.
However, the idea that there is any consensus has been denied by Congress figures spoken to by the Libya Herald.
“They are just rumours. The GNC didn’t decide anything about the current government,” Ahmed Langhi, said.
His fellow Benghazi Congressman who might have been expected to favour Hassi, Sulaiman Zubi, said the same. “Until this moment, there is no agreement on a new government.”
Yet another Benghazi member has told this newspaper that Congress was split on whether there should be consensus on a single figure, have a slate of four candidates to vote on, form a national unity government bringing together all the blocs in Congress or simply stick with Thinni until Congress is dissolved.
The latter option appears to be gaining ground not simply as the default position because of a lack of agreement on a single candidate. Claiming last night on TV that there was no Congressional majority for Hassi, Congresswomen Asmaa Sariba said that it did not make sense in appointing a new government now when it would have such little time in office. A large number of members, she said, wanted Thinni to remain.
Langi takes a similar view.
“I expect we will keep this government until the end of this Congress which will be within three months. It will be replaced by a new interim parliament which will appoint a new government. They will all finish once the Constitutional Assembly ends its work and offers the constitution to the nation to approve in a referendum at the end of 2014,” Langhi said.
The issue is further complicated by the matter of the beleaguered president of Congress, Nuri Abu Sahmain.
“Members are seriously discussing dismissing him,” Langhi said today.
However, it is also reported that the broadly Islamist Wafa bloc are prepared to back him remaining in office if there is insufficient support for Hassi becoming prime minister.
Abu Sahmain is also helped by the fact that the man who would replace him, his first deputy, Ezzidden Al-Awami, is now the focus of Congressional and public anger over his order to the Attorney General to release the three Libyan Jadhran supporters caught on the oil tanker Morning Glory.
A group of Congress members yesterday issued a statement condemning the release and stating that Awami had committed an offence by interfering on the Attorney-General’s proper function – and, moreover, doing it without consulting Congress itself. [/restrict]