By Sami Zaptia.
London, 9 March 2021:
In a landmark moment in Libya’s tumultuous political history since the 2011 revolution, the country’s split parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR), elected in the 2014 elections, finally met in a reunified and quorate session in the city of Sirte yesterday.
The HoR leadership reported that it does indeed have what it regards as a quorum with 132 members present. The session was called by HoR head Ageela Saleh on 28 February.
It is tasked with passing a vote of confidence in the designate Government of National Unity (GNU) – the first unified Libyan government since the 2014 government split that followed the Tripoli ‘‘Libya Dawn’’ militia coup.
It will be recalled that the HoR has 21 days to approve the GNU. If the HoR rejects Aldabaiba’s initial government, he has 10 days to submit a new one. If that is also rejected by the HoR, it will be returned to the UNSMIL selected 74-member Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) for approval or rejection. Aldabaiba and the designate Presidency Council were selected by the 74-member LPDF in Geneva on 5 February.
At the session..
At the first day’s session, the overwhelming members who spoke expressed their support and willingness to vote for the Aldabaiba GNU.
Some members were split, however, over the large size of the GNU. They felt Aldabaiba does not have time to effectively use a 26-portfolio government. The ‘‘minimalists’’ felt he should have chosen 13 ministers, one representing each electoral district, to be effective in the short period of time until 24 December.
Others criticised him for not giving their constituency/city/region enough portfolios or not high enough portfolios.
There were some members that insisted that the LPDF outcomes in Geneva and Tunis (the Roadmap) should be incorporated by law by the HoR as part and parcel of approving the government. They also wanted the new 3+1 format of three Presidency Council members and a separate prime minister to be incorporated by law as a constitutional amendment.
The HoR leadership intervened on this issue, pointing out that in their reading, the 11th Constitutional Amendment by the HoR already covers this, and therefore see no need for another amendment.
Equally, there were calls by some members to take advantage of this rare quorate meeting and pass legislation that tidies up various loose ends to ensure that the new three-member PC and the Aldabaiba GNU are not challenged on constitutional grounds in courts.
This included calls to pass a new constitution referendum law and regulations, in readiness for the prescribed referendum, as well as passing the 24 December 2021 elections laws for the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) to prepare for elections with.
The HoR leadership said they preferred that such detailed and legalistic matters be, as is the usual case, referred to specialized committees to work on, rather than on the main floor of the house.
They reminded members that this session was called purely to pass a vote of confidence in the Aldabaiba GNU – and not for other general matters.
Finally, as many members wished to question Aldabaiba about his government makeup and its planned policies, it was decided that he would be called to face the House in tomorrow’s session starting at 11 am.