By Sami Zaptia.
London, 26 November 2018:
Libya’s parliament, the internationally-recognized House of Representatives (HoR), adopted a constitutional amendment and approved the formula for restructuring the Presidency Council (PC) during its session today.
According to its official spokesperson Abdulla Belheeg, 123 members were present at the session. He said that the constitutional amendment “fortifies” article 6 of the Referendum Law on the permanent Constitution of the country.
This is an acknowledgement, as had been widely held at the time, that article 6 was liable to legal challenge as it clashed with the existing operative temporary constitution, the Transitional Constitutional Declaration of 2011 as amended in 2014.
For the purposes of the referendum on the draft permanent constitution, article 6 of the Referendum Law passed by the HoR this summer divides Libya into three voting districts; its historical districts of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan. Prior to this amendment Libya had been treated as one voting district by the Transitional Constitution.
The HoR also stipulated the need for the draft constitution to receive the approval of 50 + 1 in each region as well two thirds of the Libyan people’s approval nationwide.
With regards to the matter of restructuring the Faiez Serraj-led PC, Belheeg added that the constitutional amendment that was approved today included the adoption of the new-style slimline PC consisting of a President and two Deputies plus a separate Prime Minister as head of government.
It will be recalled that both the HoR and High State Council (HSC) had both come to an agreement on restructuring the PC in principle and on the exact process for the restructuring through their joint committee.
This was subsequently approved by the whole HSC and today by the whole HoR. The power to restructure and change the incumbents of the PC is enshrined in the 2015 Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement (LPA).
Ironically, the desire of the HoR to restructue the PC and almost certainly replace its head, Faiez Serraj and the rest of the PC, has forced the HoR into recognizing the PC.
The HoR had refused to approve the Faiez Serraj Government of National Accord (GNA), despite recognizing the PC in principle. Now the HoR has had to pass a constitutional amendment in order to have the power to restructure the PC. It has also brought the HoR and HSC closer – forcing them to work together for a common interest.
Moreover, the drive by the HoR and HSC to restructure the PC will be the ultimate test of their power and sovereignty in the face of alleged resistance to the restructuring of the PC by UNSMIL and the international community.
It is perceived that the international community fears the destabilizing effect of both the process and the choosing of a new PC. They prefer the continuity of the Serraj administration.
The drive to restructure the PC will also test the international community’s oft repeated mantra of “Libyan owned” policies and solutions, and test the Libyan public’s perception that Libya is controlled by outsiders.