By Libya Herald reporters.
Tobruk/Tripoli, 5 October, 2015:
In a side-blow to the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue plans for a government of national unity to . . .[restrict]take office by 20 October, the House of Representatives (HoR) today voted to amend the 2011 Constitutional Declaration, extending its term of office beyond 21 October. That is the date when it officially expires under the amendment to the Declaration by the former General National Congress setting up the HoR.
There is no time limit to the HoR’s new term, according to the HoR media office. It would simply remain in being until elections to a new legislature when a new constitution comes into effect. However, the HoR’s official spokesman, Faraj Buhashim, said that it would extend the HoR’ life by up to sis months.
The HoR’s presidency office has refused to say who had voted in favour of the amendment “for security reasons” but said that “over 126 members” had done so. However, Essa Al-Araibi, one of the Benghazi HoR members, told the Libya Herald that 131 had attended the session and “all of them have voted in favour for the decision”.
The figure still falls short of two-thirds of all HoR members, seen by some observers as the number needed to legitimately amend the declaration.
Under both the Draft Dialogue agreement initialed on 11 July and the amended version drawn up by UN Special Representative Bernardino Leon to meet GNC demands, it was planned that HoR would amend the constitution and extend its lifespan by up to two years. However, Leon and many members of the international community have indicated that they would not accept any unilateral amendment by the HoR unless it occured within the framework of the Dialogue agreement.
Although the move indicates that the HoR is now planning for life after the UN Dialogue, it says it is still committed to the negotiations. The amendment is, moreover, consistent with the statement by HoR president Ageela Salah Gwaider last week in an interview in New York, that the Dialogue could go beyond 20 October.
It remains to be seen if the international community will recognise the amendment, although it is likely that some, such as China and Russia, quite apart from Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan and the UAE, probably will do so. [/restrict]