Will Libya’s Government of National Accord fall?
With all the current confusion in the Libyan status quo, one thing remains a focus for all: the endeavours to amend the Libyan Political Agreement which led to the formation of the Presidential Council.
The Presidential Council has failed in its attempts to gain a vote of confidence by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR). It has also failed to overcome the ongoing security and economic issues in the country, leaving it in a shaky position.
Meanwhile, Reida El Oakley, the Minister of Health at the interim government in eastern Libya, informed Egyptian newspaper Al-Bayan that the commander of Operation Dignity Khalifa Haftar could soon announce the formation of a national government.
“The HoR and other political blocs will push for forming a government headed by Haftar with a lot of popularity on the ground across Libya and a grip to control the entire country so that no terror threats can be found again,” El Oakley claimed, adding that the interim government and the HoR support the formation of a new government under Haftar that would stabilize Libya.
The new statement comes as Haftar’s popularity surges, and his forces’ grip on Libya’s land expands. A map published by the BBC noted that forces loyal to Haftar control as much as 80% of the country.
A group in Al-Bayda city recently launched a campaign aimed at presenting Haftar as Libya’s president. Their stated aim is to save the country, adding that recent governments have been incapable of controlling Libya.
This campaign was preceded by demonstrations in September 2016 that called for a military council headed by Haftar to be formed. The demonstrators also supported an end to the role of Military battalions and a re-activation of the role of so-called Libyan National Army (Haftar’s forces), with some social media activists advocating for control of Libya’s oil terminals, particularly those in Tripoli, to come under Haftar’s forces control.
Last July, Haftar gave the Government of National Accord (GNA) six months to end the suffering of the Libyans, adding that his forces would have the last word if they failed to abide by this deadline. He claimed that his forces had grown impatient at seeing the Presidential Council scrambling for solutions yet finding none:
“It has to end the suffering of the people in the coming months or my forces will intervene” Haftar stated at the time.
Meanwhile, Fayez Al-Serraj appointed Faraj Egaiem – Al-Awaqeer tribesman who is a senior leader at one of Haftar top security units – as a deputy interior minister. Al-Awaqeer tribe consequently issued a statement on September 03 supporting Haftar’s forces efforts to eliminate terrorism and build a country of law and nationalism in Libya. The tribe criticized the Presidential Council and accused Al-Serraj of implementing a foreign agenda in Libya, decrying the decision-making body of the GNA as illegitimate and stressing their support for the HoR and the Haftar’s forces.
Haftar then issued an order banning officials from the GNA to work in areas under the control of his general command, saying the order shall proceed even by the use of force.
According to observers, Al-Serraj’s appointment of Egiem, who was the commander of Special Tasks Force of the eastern government, was an affront to Haftar’s control over the eastern region. This, observers claimed, was a call for tribal and regional war.
An independent member from the dialogue committee, Fadeel Al-Ameen, said Al-Serraj’s appointment of Egaiem is like playing with the “genes of the country” which risks creating mutants, according to a post on his Facebook page.
This was not the first instance of Al-Serraj upsetting the balance of power in Libya. Earlier in 2016, he appointed Al-Awaqeer tribe member Al-Mahdi Al-Barghathi as the defence minister of the GNA. Al-Barghathi was previously a part of Haftar’s 204 Tanks Battalion, a post he left to serve the GNA.
These new developments come amidst international efforts to build bridges between the parties to the political conflict in Libya. The latest of these efforts was the African Union summit on Libya in the Congolese capital, Brazzaville, to broker a solution for the end of the Libyan crisis.
The latest developments are compounded by the arrival of a new player in Libya’s political arena: Basit Igtet, a Libyan Zurich-based entrepreneur. Igtet has been posting videos on his official Facebook page urging Libyans to take to the streets and protest against the various iterations of Libyan government, including the GNA, the eastern interim government, the High Council of State and Haftar’s forces. He also vowed that if Al-Serraj and Haftar did not listen to the voice of people and leave, they run the risk of leaving in caskets.
Igtet wants Libyans to take to Martyrs Square on September 25, promising them that they won’t be opposed by any force and that their voice will be heard by the whole world, especially the US, which he said is his main ally for his coming move. In his latest video, Igtet also broke down his economic plan to save Libya from the current crisis, explaining how he would make radical changes to Libya’s economic system to inject it with new life.
Since December 17, 2015, Libya has added a new government to the existing eastern parliament and its interim government. However, the passing of a year of the Skhirat agreement without a vote of confidence in the Presidential Council from the HoR renders the agreement invalid in the eyes of Libya’s eastern parties. This may prove problematic, particularly given that the UN insists that the agreement, and the political bodies that the agreement gives life to, remain valid.
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