By Saber Ayyub.
Tripoli, 10 February 2016:
Facing stalemate over the choice of defence minister the Presidency Council meeting in Skhirat has been . . .[restrict]given until next Sunday to name its government. The extension, which had been requested by the Council, was agreed at a session of the House of Representatives (HoR) yesterday in Tobruk.
The selection of a defence minister caused a bitter divide among some members of the Council, largely between Ali Gatrani, an ally of Khalifa Hafter, on the one side and, on the other, Misrtan businessman Ahmed Maetig, Mohamed Ammari, and Abdussalam Kajman.
It has resulted in frayed tempers which at one point became physical with Gatrani, Maetig and some others at Skhirat involved in a brawl which was photographed.
Three names for the defence post were proposed: Mohamed Hassan Al-Barghathi, a former ambassador to Jordan; Abdulbasset Al-Badri, Libyan ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Jordan, and backed by Qatrani; and Hassan Abdullah Elabbar, a former police commander.
Intense pressure is said to have been put on Maetig, Ammari, an Islamist seen as linked to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and on Kajman, who is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, to accept Bargathi and at one point it was said that they had conceded.
However, the choice is not yet been fully agreed and there are reports that the Council is once more thinking the unthinkable – that no defence minister be appointed.
Such an outcome is seen as unlikely, however, as it would almost certainly leads to calls in the HoR for the entire Council to be sacked on the grounds that it had proved its inability to do its job.
Already the delays in appointing a government plus the altercation between Maetig and Gatrani, the photo of which was posted on social media, have prompted some HoR members to look for alternatives. A group of parliamentarians are expected to meet with Hafter today to discuss their options. [/restrict]