By Saber Ayyub.
Tripoli, 20 February 2016:
Heated arguments marked the House of Representatives’ (HoR’s) debate today over whether to approve the latest . . .[restrict]government proposed by prime minister-elect Faiez Serraj. He was accompanied by all the Presidency Council members apart from Ahmed Maetig, Mohamed Ammari and Abdessalam Kajman. Even Ali Gatrani who refused to endorse the nominations and suspended his membership of the Council was present.
In today’s session, Council member Fathi Al-Majbri defended it against accusations that it was hopelessly divided and that the three absent Council members did not recognise the HoR’s authority or legitimacy.
The first accusation referred to the refusal of Gatranui and Omar Aswad to approve the proposed cabinet.
Taking a tough line, Majbri said that the Council was the result of more than a year’s negotiations in which the HoR had been fully involved.
“You cannot judge us now over the presence of some members in the council, or any of us. We are the result of the dialogue process brokered by the UN that you accepted and approved. Of course, you have the complete authority to cancel that approval right now if you like,” he said.
It was perfectly natural tothat there were differences of opinion within the Council, he said, because its members were from different places and with different views. It was also true that some Council members were unhappy with the HoR. But the Council’s goal was national unity and saving the country.
“The Parliament accepted this from the start for the sake of Libya, and now it has to continue for the sake of the ordinary people who are suffering in their daily life,” he declared.
Referring to the thorny issue of the army and of Khalifa Hafter, he said that there had to be a civilian in charge of the defence ministry not a general.
“I completely support the army and its leadership . . . but at the same time I see the importance of having a civilian holding the office of the Defence Minister. That is what any civilised country should have,” he explained.
It was not easy, he added, consulting with every member of the HoR about the new government within the deadline given, but he and others had tried to listen to as many as possible about its formation, he said.
Strong Cyrenaica difference of opinion marked the session. There was a row between the HoR’s Defence and National Security Committee member Fathallah Saiti and Ali Gatrani, while Majberi accused Gatrani of having threatened to ensure that he would never be able to return to Cyrenaica again.
The row is seen as relating to the split within the east between those who support Hafter and those who are more interested in federalism. Gatrani is a Hafter loyalist while Majberi is a federalist and a close ally of Ajdabiya’s Ibrahim Jadhran. Saiti is one of the three Ajdabiya members.
Following an impassioned appeal on behalf of the people of Sirte, the increasingly raucus session was finally brought to an early close by the president, Ageela Saleh. It will reconvene tomorrow, Sunday, at 10am. [/restrict]