By Sami Zaptia.
London, 25 July 2018:
The House of Representatives (HoR) yesterday issued a call on all members to meet next Monday and Tuesday (30 and 31 July) at its Tobruq headquarters for an official session.
In its letter, the HoR said with reference to its constitutional role and the vote taken during its last session, the HoR leadership calls on its members to assemble next Monday and Tuesday in order to ‘‘vote on the referendum bill for the draft of the permanent constitution for the country after the HoR had completed its debate’’.
It will be recalled that the HoR concluded its debate of the referendum bill for Libya’s permanent constitution last week during its Monday and Tuesday sittings.
The HoR’s official spokesperson, Abdalla Belheeg, had said that over 70 members had attended the session and that the bill would be voted on, on (Monday) 30 July.
During the HoR’s 26 June session some amendments to the articles of the bill were initially voted on and referred to the HoR’s legislative committee for a legal opinion.
The public commitment by the HoR to vote on the referendum bill for the constitution concurs with the timeline undertaking by HoR head Ageela Saleh at the May Paris conference on Libya.
It is worth bearing in mind that the elected Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) had initially presented the HoR with its latest draft constitution in July 2017, but a (lower) court ruling in the eastern city of Beida in August of the same year had prevented the HoR from debating/approving the draft.
However, the Supreme Court subsequently overturned that ruling in February this year, clearing the way for the HoR to debate and vote on the draft constitution.
It must, nevertheless, also be kept in mind that the two ethnically Tebu members of the CDA had not voted in favour of the ‘‘approved’’ draft constitution. Under the existing voting rules, the constitution has to be accepted by at least one of the two CDA members from each of the three ethnic communities in Libya – the Amazigh, Tebu and Tuareg. In theory this voids the vote on the draft constitution.
Politically, it will be recalled that the 29 May 2018 joint communique issued by Faiez Serraj, Ageela Saleh, Khaled Mishri and Khalifa Hafter at the end of the Paris conference on Libya committed the above signatories to constitutional based elections, an electoral law to be passed by the HoR by 16 September 2018, Libyan parliamentary and presidential elections by 10 December 2018, an acceptance of the election results by all parties, an end to parallel state institutions and unified military and security institution.
However, there seems to be a reluctance to go ahead with Libyan elections as early as December by some members of the international community. This was discerned during the visits by French and Italian Ministers to Libya over the last few days.
Italy, is for one, is seen as being in opposition to holding an election prior to Libyans achieving ‘‘real’’ reconciliation. France, meanwhile, continues to push for December elections.