Presidency Council gathers in Tunis to confer on new government

By Michel Cousins.

Tunis, 6 October 2016:

Faiez Serraj and other members of the Presidency Council (PC) arrived today in Tunis for the start of what is expected to be several days of intensive discussions on the composition of the new slimmed-down government of national accord (GNA).

Six weeks ago, the House of Representatives (HoR)voted to reject the last proposed GNA, ordering the nine-member PC to come up with a new, reduced list of government ministers within ten days. Serraj promised that a new government would be selected and presented to the HoR but said that until then the ministers in Tripoli should continue in their existing caretaker roles.

The PC has been under growing pressure, nationally and internationally, to give a role within the new government to Khalifa Hafter. Both the French and Italian government have publically called on it to do so. But while this is likely to find acceptance among a number of members, it will be fiercely resisted by others, notably the pro-Islamist Abdelsalam Kajman and Mohamed Ammari.

One suggestion is that instead of appointing a fresh slate of government ministers the PC members take the posts themselves.

This would meet the HoR’s demand that the new government contain no more than nine members – the prime minister and eight ministers.

The decision to meet in Tunis rather than Tripoli meets the objection of Ali Gatrani who agreed to rejoin the PC after months of boycotting it following an appeal from HoR president Ageela Saleh. However, he refuses to attend sessions in Tripoli while, he says, it remains controlled by illegal militias.

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