By Sami Zaptia.
London, 9 September 2021:
Libya’s Oil Ministry still insists that National Oil Corporation (NOC) chairman Mustafa Sanalla is still suspended from his post. He also said the NOC board will be reformed.
The reformation of the NOC board was subsequently confirmed by Prime Minister Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba at yesterday’s parliamentary questioning session.
The Oil Ministry also portrayed a different narrative to that portrayed by most commentators regarding the crisis summit called by Aldabaiba between Aoun and Sanalla.
Aoun’s decisions null and void?
It will be recalled that after that summit, it was assumed that a reset to the status quo ante had now been pressed. Afterall, Sanalla was, publicly at least, neither suspended nor admonished for travelling abroad without his Minister’s permission.
It was also assumed that his referral to investigation and the appointment of his temporary replacement, Jadalla Oakely, was now also null and void.
Who was the winner?
In the political battle between the minister and the chairman, it was perceived that the chairman had come out on top.
All of Aoun’s decisions had ostensibly been reversed. Sanalla was not suspended, his replacement did not take over his post, and he was not referred to investigation. All three of Aoun’s Ministerial decisions were not implemented.
Sanalla, it will be recalled, had ripped Aoun apart in his video onslaught in which he defended his actions and decisions. In it, he questioned Aoun’s integrity and acumen as a minister. Many ministers would not have stood for that.
Logic would have presumed that both could not continue working together. In a developed democracy, Aoun would have given his Prime Minister an ultimatum: It’s me or him, back me or sack me. And if his Prime Minister did not back him, he most probably would have resigned on point of principal. It is unclear if Aoun did put Aldabaiba on the spot and neither man has resigned.
Oil Ministry stands firm
However, in the statement on Monday, the Ministry said ‘‘Based on the invitation of His Excellency the Prime Minister to continue the work of the Ministry of Oil and Gas and its affiliated institutions, and to identify the difficulties and problems it faces in performing its duties as required, a meeting was held at the Cabinet on Sunday, September 5, 2021, in which the problems and difficulties faced by the Ministry since its establishment were discussed. and try to find solutions to it.
The Prime Minister directed to take some measures that will help the Ministry of Oil and Gas to overcome the difficulties it faces and carry out its tasks.
In this regard, the Ministry of Oil and Gas affirms that it is doing its duty fully despite the many difficulties and obstacles it has faced and is still facing.
The ministry also confirms that its recommendation regarding changing the board of directors of the National Oil Corporation is still valid, and is awaiting presentation to the Council of Ministers by the Prime Minister, who confirmed this.
Also, Resolution No. 35 regarding suspending the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Oil Corporation from work as stated in the resolution is still in effect, and is awaiting enforcement by law enforcement authorities and decisions’’.
Aldabaiba’s reshuffle – will Sanalla survive?
The next move is the Prime Minister’s. Will he reshuffle the board, simply integrating the breakaway NOC board in the east into it – while keeping Sanalla in post? Or will he create a brand new board with a new chairman?