By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 8 February 2016:
The Presidency Council meeting in Skhirat, Morocco, is expected to ask House of Representatives’ (HoR) . . .[restrict]for an extension to the deadline to present it with a new government. A list of names was expected to be agreed by last night at the latest in order for the HoR to debate and vote on it today. However, despite discussions with the Libya Dialogue team and with UN Special Envoy Martin Kobler yesterday, the Council was unable to reach a decision, and overshot the deadline – although as far as it is concerned, the real deadline is Tuesday.
It is the second time it has been unable to decide a government in time. Last month, the it took an extra two days to decide on a list – which in the event was rejected by the HoR.
The cause of the problem this time is the appointment of the defence minister. Supporters of Khalifa Hafter, the head of the armed forces, insist that he or his appointee be given the job. There were reportedly heated discussions in the Council yesterday over the appointment – pitting Ali Gatrani, one of the five deputy prime ministers-designate and Hafter’s prime ally on it, against the others, notably Fathi Majberi.
Although also from the east, Majberi is close to Ibrahim Jadhran, the Ajdabiya-based leader of the Petroleum Facilities Guards and a bitter opponent of Hafter.
There have been reports that Gartrani, who walked out of the Council over a clause in the Libyan Political Agreement which Hafter supporters consider a deliberate move to remove him, has threatened to again suspend his Council membership over the appointment.
In an attempt to diffuse the problem the Council is reported to be looked at a number of alternatives. These are that Prime Minister-designate Faiez Serraj take on the defence ministry himself, that a committee be set up to assume to functions for three months, or than no one be appointed to the post at present.
Given Libya’s desperate security needs, the latter is seen as a non-starter.
In its formula for the distribution of ministry posts, the Council had earlier decided that the defence ministry would go to a political figure from the south. The south too is supposed to get the health and local government portfolios. This makes for an added complication since there is every possibility that if the defence portfolio does not go to a southerner, southern members in the HoR will vote against the proposed government
Equally, while supporters of the LPA opposed to the general, notably in Misrata, agreed that the Hafter issue should be deferred and that he could stay in his present role for the time being, they have also made it clear that there is no way they could accept him having any role in the government. The HoR, too, would almost certainly refuse to approve a government that included him,
Among other developments, it is reported that the Presidency Council has agreed in principle that three of the dozen or so ministers in the new government be women. [/restrict]