By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 19 May 2014:
The government today joined the growing movement demanding that the General National Congress (GNC) close down. It . . .[restrict]has laid down a set of strict instructions to Congress which amounts to an ultimatum that it pass the 2014 budget and then cease functioning.
Following an emergency cabinet meeting today, the government announced that the GNC had to adhere to a raft of measures to stop the country from “descending into infighting which no party could win”.
In a hard-hitting 10-point open letter to Congress, it said that that a second prime ministerial vote had to be held to put to rest ambiguities following Ahmed Maetig’s election to the post. At the time, several Congress members cast doubt on the legality of Maetig’s victory when a second round of balloting was called for in Congress after its session had been closed. Others said he had failed to reach the necessary majority of 120 votes.
The government said the country’s current political crisis had resulted from this legal controversy and that it had to be resolved through a secret ballot, but publicly televised.
It also charged Congress with passing a budget for 2014 after which it said its sittings and sessions should be suspended.
Completely limiting the input of Congress into matters of national security, the government also said that directives from Commander in Chief of the Libyan armed forces, GNC President Nuri Abu Sahmain, and Chief of Staff Major General Abdussalam Jadallah Obeidi now had to be approved by the cabinet.
Setting a specific timetable for the beginning of the transfer of power, it declared elections had to start to the new House of Representatives by 15 August at the latest. The government said it would itself disband in during the first session of the new legislature.
Finally the government said it supported not only the military establishment and the security forces but also what it called the “true” revolutionaries for their “sacrifices and good service to the nation”.
Congress has seen innumerable physical attacks against it by various militias and unofficial groupings since it was elected in July 2012. The open letter amounts to the most powerful assault against it from the government’s side.
Thinni, who was made interim prime minister in March when it sacked Ali Zeidan has already twice managed to outmanoeuvre Congress. The first when he threatened to resign last month unless given more power; Congress, unable at the time to agree an alternative, appointed him full-time prime minister. The second was when he then refused its request to come up with a new government, saying that he would not do so and that he would resign when Congress appointed another prime minster.
Angry at being ignored, Congress then chose Maetig, but in controversial circumstances that are now playing against it.