By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 31 March 2015:
The Tripoli-based continuing General National Congress has dismissed Omar Al-Hassi as its prime minister, supposedly . . .[restrict]over concerns about his handling of the economy. It has replaced him with the First Deputy Premier, Khalifa Ghwell.
According to Congress spokesman Omar Hemaidan, conflicting reports about the state of the economy were the reason for his sacking. However, he also reported that 70 members and 16 of Hassi’s ministers had filed a report complaining about his “poor” performance, with the ministers threatening to resign en masse if he were not removed.
Hassi has shown little understanding of economic reality in the few public statements on the subject he has made, constantly insisting that Libya has plenty of money at hand and that there is no financial crisis. It has resulted in accusations that he was in denial about Libya’s increasingly grim financial situation. A month ago on TV, he tried to convince an sceptical public that there was no cause for austerity and that the Central Bank of Libya and Libyan banks had over LD 100 billion available, implying that the money was available to spend. The previous week he likewise claimed that the country’s finances were sound.
Hassi’s assertions, which resulted in Congress’ Finance Committee launching an investigation into them, have not been limited to the Libya’s financial position. In January, he claimed the US government was working with his administration on humanitarian reconstruction in Libya and that the US was sending aid including electricity generator ships to Libya – a report that was instantly dismissed by the Americans. Earlier the same month, he claimed that a British military delegation had been to Tripoli to assess security conditions there and had expressed satisfaction at the situation. That too was dismissed as untrue, by British ambassador Michael Aron.
Other surprises have included his description of Ansar Al-Sahria as “beautiful”.
A firm Islamist, originally from Benghazi, he was appointed Prime Minister by Congress in August. Allegedly just 20 members took part in the proceedings, with just 16 voting for him. No foreign governments, however, ever recognised him as primier..
A year ago he was the runner-up in a vote in Congress on who should replace Abdullah Al-Thinni as prime minister.
He has denied persistent rumours that he was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
Ghwell, who served as Hassi’s Minister of Defence, is also an Islamist and also thinks that Ansar are acceptable. “Ansar al-Sharia are not extremists,” he was quoted saying last month. “They are revolutionaries.” [/restrict]