By Libya Herald reporters.
Tobruk/Tunis, 8 May 2017:
A growing row over a House of Representatives (HoR) statement condemning Algeria’s Minister of Maghreb, African and Arab Affairs, Abdulkader Messahel, for visiting Ghat and Ghadames “without persmission” is threatening to undermine relations between the eastern parliament and Algeria. It comes as HoR President Ageela Saleh is warmly welcomed in Morocco on an official visit.
It has also set some members of the HoR against the committee.
Messahel was in Ghat and Ghadames on Saturday, and in the former met tribal representatives from there as well as from Sebha, Obari, Murzuk, Qatrun, Jufra and the Shatti area. He also met Ghat mayor Gumani Mohammed Saleh, the chairman of the social council of the tribes of Fezzan ,Ali Musbah, and General Ali Kena who heads a pro-Qaddafi Tuareg force in the region.
The HoR statement, issued later the same day in the name of the defence and securitycommittee and signed by its chairman, Talal Almaihub, accused Messahel of violating Libyan sovereignty by entering Libya without permission, of going to Libyan towns as if they were part of Algeria, and of meeting people “who hate Libyans”.
The statement is thought to have been authorised by Ageela Saleh. Almaihub is close to him and was appointed by him as chairman of the committee after he sacked Fathallah Saiti when the latter came out in support of the Presidency Council.
Both represent Guba.
In reaction to it, HoR Ghat member Saleh Hama has demanded that that the committee retract it. In an undated, unstamped letter, he has claimed that it was not drawn up in consultation with the committee but written by Almaihub acting on his own. Pointing out that Messahel had permission from the Presidency Council, he also defended those the Algerian minister met, saying they were soldiers who had defended the country.
One of the original four members representing the HoR on the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue, Hama is an influential MP. A friend of deputy HoR president Emhemed Shouaib, he is not considered close to Ageela Saleh, however.
Also claiming that the statement did not reflect the views of the committee, Ibrahim Kranfouda, from Obari, is reported to have likewise demanded it be withdrawn. Describing it as divisive, he is said to want Almaihub to apologise to the people of Fezzan for issuing it.
In a statement today at the Libya neighbours’ meeting in Algiers, Messahel similarly rejected the HoR committee’s accusations, noting that his visits had been approved of the Presidency Council. They had been “coordinated with the consent of the relevant authorities,” he said.
The row has been thrown into sharp relief and possibly accentuated by Ageela Salah’s visit to Morocco, Algeria’s arch rival. He arrived in Rabat yesterday evening at the invitation of the speaker of the Moroccan House of Representatives, Habib El-Malki. He has been given an extremely warm welcome, not only from the Moroccan HoR but also from the Moroccan government.