By Ayman Amzein.
Benghazi, 2 August 2014:
Fears that the new House of Representatives would be split from the start into two separate . . .[restrict]bodies on political and geographical lines have been averted with the arrival for today’s emergency pre-inaugural session of at least 153 members in Torbuk, where the postitive, almost festive atmosphere is in stark contrast to that in Benghazi and Tripoli.
Those who have turned up to are from all over the country. They include Hamouda Siala, elected in Central Tripoli, Faiz Al-Saraj and Musab Abdulagasim, both from Hay Al-Andalous,Tariq Ashtar (Abu Sleem) and Luwai Al-Ghawi (Suq Al-Juma).
It is expected that when the session starts this morning, there could be as many as 170 members. The only conspicuous reported absence is of members from Misrata. Mustafa Abushagur, the member for Suq Al-Juma who was briefly kidnapped on Wednesday yesterday said that he too would not be going to Tobruk.
The meeting has also seen a rallying of the country’s official leaders. The Prime Minister, Abdullah Al-Thinni, as well as the Ministers of Interior, Health, Transport, Local Government, the Deputy Minister of Finance and the Cabinet Secretary are in Tobruk. So too is the Chief of General Staff, Major General Abdussalam Al-Obeidi. He is overseeing security both in the town, which is said to be good, and on the border.
Earlier this week, there were separate meetings in Tobruk and Tripoli of members of the parliament, as Libyans now call it, with those at the former saying that its inaugural meeting would on 4 August in Benghazi and thereafter sessions probably in Tobruk itself. Those who met in Tripoli had gone along with view expressed by the head of the General National Congress, Nuri Abu Sahmain, that the parliament would not be legal until power was handed to it by Congress, and that would be done in Tripoli on 4 August.
With the Tripoli nor Tobruk gatherings at the time roughly split in numbers, there was growing alarm that two separate Houses would happen, neither with the quorum of 120 members needed for major decisions such as appointing a government. Abu Sahmain’s intervention was also widely seen as a spoiler aimed at ensuring such an outcome and that Congress would therefore continue in office.
Today’s meeting has averted that potential disaster. With far more members present than the necessary quorum demands, its legitimacy is unassailable even by Congress. It provides hope that Libya’s present violent power struggles can be overcome.
It remains to be seen if members will decide unilaterally to make today’s meeting at Tobruk’s Dar Es-Salam Hotel a formal inauguration and also whether they will ask Thinni to stay on as interim Prime Minister. [/restrict]