By Sami Zaptia.
London, 15 December 2020:
Libya’s internationally recognized parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR) met for an official session at its constitutional headquarters in the city of Benghazi yesterday, headed by Speaker Ageela Saleh, and Second Deputy Speaker, Ahmeed Houma.
Official photographs of the session show no more than a rump of 20 members aligned to Saleh attending.
According to HoR official spokesperson, Abdulla Belheeg, the session’s agenda included:
- Amending the HoR’s internal regulations
- Discussing the draft law to increase the salaries of retirees
- Discussing the report submitted by the head of the Crisis Committee regarding fuel distribution crises in the southern region
- Any additional new matters
Belheeg explained that it was agreed unanimously by attendees during the session to refer the amendment of the HoR regulations and the draft law to increase the salaries of retired people to the Legislative and Constitutional Committee in the HoR.
He added that with regard to the report submitted by the head of the Crisis Committee regarding the fuel distribution crisis in the southern region, it was agreed to form an investigation committee headed by the Chairman of the Legislative Committee in the HoR.
Belheeg revealed that it was also agreed during the session to form a committee to present a vision to amend the exchange rate and instruct the supervisory bodies to assume their responsibility in following up the executive authority.
It was also agreed to renew the invitation to (non-attending) members to attend the HoR sessions at its constitutional headquarters in Benghazi in addition to the inclusion of the diplomatic corps draft laws and the Economic crimes and social security draft law are on the HoR debate agenda.
127 HoR members meet in Ghadames v 20 meet in Benghazi?
It will be noted that this is the second session that the HoR in Benghazi holds since 127 of its members chose to meet in Ghadames at the beginning of this month in a consultative meeting – without Ageela Saleh. Saleh is seen as divisive. A large number, if not most members, want him replaced.
It could be said that members have decided to vote with their feet: Ghadames 127 v Benghazi 20!
In its 8 December final statement, the consultative session of the reunified HoR meeting in Ghadames had agreed to continue to meet and set out its agenda.
The statement announced that the next meeting will be held in Ghadames again from 21-22 December.
It stressed that the HoR was now effectively reunified with the participation of 127 members in Ghadames and that members were eager to give other members who failed to attend, another chance to attend the next session in order to build more bridges of trust.
The statement added that the next session, which is scheduled to be held in Ghadames on Monday and Tuesday, 21 and 22 of this month will discuss:
On the first day (Monday 21 December):
- The re-election of the Office of the HoR Presidency
- The approval of six-monthly parliamentary sessions
- The amendment of internal regulations accordingly
On the second day (Tuesday 22 December):
- Discussion of the re-election of parliamentary committees
- The formation of interim technical committees
- Policy making
- Communication on sovereign positions
- Proposed amendments to internal regulations.
What is the constitutional position?
However, the internationally recognized 2015 Skhirat Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) recognizes the (now) Benghazi-based HoR as the exclusive Libyan parliament. This happens to be under the leadership of Ageela Saleh and until a quorate of members meets, probably in Benghazi, and removes him, it is unclear what the constitutional position will be.
The above announced agenda for the next Ghadames HoR meeting plans to re-elect the HoR’s leadership. It will be up for debate as to whether this would be a leadership for the only unofficial consultative HoR or whether it will regard itself as the leadership of Libya’s new reunified and constitutional HoR.
The question will then be, when will the new political de facto become the new political de jure?
This will put the international community in a quandary between the constitutionality of the LPA and Ageela Saleh and recognition of a new political reality represented by the Ghadames 127 members.