Tobruk HoR to hold special session in Sirte to grant confidence to new Government of National Unity

By Sami Zaptia.

(Logo: Tobruk HoR).

London, 15 February 2021:

The House of Representatives (HoR), Libya’s internationally recognized parliament based in Tobruk announced that it plans to hold a special session in Sirte to grant confidence to the country’s newly selected executive, the Presidency Council and Government of National Unity (GNU).

The revelation came after the HoR held a consultative meeting in Tobruk today chaired by its head, Ageela Saleh, and Second Deputy, Ehmed Huma.

The session opened with a speech by Saleh, during which he touched upon the success of the peace initiative that he said he had launched, on which the recent Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) agreement was based, and on the need for the HoR to convene to give confidence to the next government.

At the end of today’s session, the HoR concluded as follows:

1) Requesting from the GNU that the three historical regions must obtain their rights without marginalizing any part of Libya.

2) Work to get the foreign forces and mercenaries out of Libya as soon as possible.

3) The GNU must work from the city of Sirte in central Libya so that everyone can come to it, and as it is able to accommodation it. Sirte also has security and the absence of armed militias.

4) Holding a special session in Sirte to discuss granting confidence to the GNU after the approval of the 5 +5 Joint Military Commission (JMC).

5) A commitment by the GNU to hold elections on the specified date of 24 December 2021.

6) Emphasizing that granting confidence to the government is an inherent and exclusive right of the (Tobruk) House of Representatives, in accordance with the 2011 Constitutional Declaration and all constitutions of the world.

7) Assigning a committee to study what the city of Tobruk needs and assigning the government to take care of it and repairing the Tobruk-Emsaed highway.

8) Presenting the Constitutional Track (Hurghada, Egypt meetings) proposals to the HoR Legislative Committee to consider its findings.

It is noteworthy that the new Presidency Council head, Mohamed Menfi was in Tobruk today meeting with the HoR Second Deputy, Ehmed Huma.

Tobruk v Sabrata: The Sirte compromise option?

It is estimated that there were 20-plus HoR members in attendance at today’s Tobruk meeting chaired by Ageela Saleh. However, there were today about 70 HoR members gathered in the alternative meeting in Sabrata. By tomorrow, its participants said they expect about 120 are expected to turn up in Sabrata.


Passing the ball back and forth?

Saleh’s announcement that he plans to hold a special session in Sirte to grant a vote of confidence to the GNU can be seen as a compromise or alternatively forcing the breakaway HoR members to come across as intransigent if they refuse to come to Sirte.  The ball is now in the court of the Sabrata HoR bloc.

There is talk that the Sabrata bloc may be planning to pass a vote of confidence on the GNU tomorrow anyway. The thinking is that it sends a signal domestically and internationally that they are not the bloc blocking Libya’s progress. This, they hope, will pressure Saleh’s bloc into approving the GNU.

This leaves the legalistic issue of the lack of a quorum.

The draft constitution referendum: a quagmire?

There is also a growing view that holding a referendum on the draft constitution prior to 24 December elections is virtually impossible. There is a growing acceptance that the matter of the constitution is very complex and to tie it into the already tight LPDF election timeline would embroil the whole process well beyond December 2021.

Saleh setting a trap?

Indeed, even Saleh in his opening speech to the HoR today hinted that the focus should be on holding elections in December under the current 2011 Transitional Constitutional Declaration.

He made it clear that his HoR had done its job in passing the draft constitution and that the matter of the Libyan public approving the draft constitution through a referendum was not the responsibility of his HoR. Saleh is washing his hands of and distancing himself from any failure to approve the draft constitution.

The blame game?

If the LPDF process is obstructed, he is pointing his finger very early on at the draft constitution approval process – which has nothing to do with his HoR.

This is an alternative interpretation of what the LPDF meant when it stipulated that the December elections be held on a ‘‘constitutional basis’’. The LPDF was very clear in wanting to exit Libya from its current ”interim/transitional” state. Saleh’s interpretation would keep Libya in its current constitutional state – with Saleh still head of the HoR!

It will be interesting to see how the Sabrata bloc reacts in its planned meeting tomorrow to Saleh’s latest pronouncements.


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