Former PC loyalist Majbri joins Gatrani and Aswad in fresh challenge to Serraj

By Libya Herald reporters.

Majbri flanked by sombre Aswad (L) and Gatrani reads their statement (Image: Libyaschannel TV)

Majbri flanked by sombre Aswad (L) and Gatrani reads their statement (Image: Libya’s Channel TV)

Tunis, 3 September 2017:

Three of the seven-member Presidency Council (PC) have condemned their chief Faiez Serraj for issuing decrees unilaterally and according to them, breaching the terms of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). They have further said that the House of Representatives (HoR) is the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people, but have said nothing about their own position now within the PC.

Fathi Al-Majbri, Ali Al-Gatrani, both PC vice-presidents and Omar Aswad stood side by side as Majbri read out a three-page statement in a video recording. The surprise is that Majbri has not only come out against Serraj but was the trio’s spokesman yesterday. He has been an active PC member until early last month when he withdrew after attacking Serraj’s Italian migrant deal. Last week Majbri flew to Benghazi for talks with armed forces commander-in-chief Khalifa Hafter.

Majbri and Gatrani are from the east while Aswad is from Zintan. The last two have long been at odds with Serraj. The outspoken Gatrani, who like Aswad has been boycotting the PC almost from the beginning this April said Serraj should go and the international community should back Hafter.

This latest assault on Serraj’s political legitimacy appears to have been prompted by his appointment of Faraj Al-Gaem as deputy interior minister. Gaem is a member of the Awagir tribe, the dominant tribe around Benghazi and flew there a week ago. He was welcomed and protected by fellow tribesmen. A former militia leader in the Revolution and a Libyan National Army (LNA) supporter, Gaem broke with Hafter last year.

Serraj’s appointment of Gaem is seen as an attempt to divide the eastern tribal support for Hafter. His arrival in Benghazi prompted Hafter to order that any instructions from the new deputy minister should be ignored. The LNA expanded the order to say that none of the PC-appointed Government of National Accord (GNA) could operate in LNA-controlled areas. “National security comes first” said LNA spokesman Colonel Ahmed Mismari adding that force would be used “when required”.

In the video, the dissenting trio protested their support for “legitimate institutions, above all the HoR and the military establishment it has created under Hafter and his chief-of-staff  Abdul Razzak Al-Nazhuri”.

They said  they believed the decrees Serraj was issuing off his own bat were “leading to a worsening of the political and security landscape in Libya and detrimental to serious endeavours to reach a comprehensive reconciliation among all Libyans”.

They warned of the dire consequences of the PC head’s “breaching of the terms of the political agreement” and echoed Hafter’s reaction to Gaem’s appointment by calling for the Serraj’s decisions to be rejected.

They added: “We also call on the international community, the sponsors of the political agreement and the United Nations Mission, specifically its representative, Mr. Ghassan Salamé, to take a clear and firm stand against these violations, which threaten the unity, security and stability of the country”.

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