Sunday,17 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1290, (7 - 13 April 2016)
Sunday,17 December, 2017
Issue 1290, (7 - 13 April 2016)

Ahram Weekly

New government in Tripoli

The Libyan Presidential Council has been strengthening its presence in the capital Tripoli despite some continuing tensions, writes Kamel Abdallah

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The Presidential Council of the national accord government in Libya continues to strengthen its position in the capital, having arrived in Tripoli on 30 March on a Libyan navy warship.

It has taken up residence at the Abu Sitta base in the capital, protected by police under the Tripoli Security Directorate and the Libyan navy. Local and regional parties have continued to lie in wait, however, even after the Council successfully entered the city without the promised clashes.

MP Sultana Mismari said the Libyan parliament had not managed to hold its scheduled meetings on Monday to consider a motion of confidence in the national accord government or to amend the country’s constitutional declaration to bring it into line with the political settlement.

The parliament could not muster a quorum for the meetings, demonstrating the weight of obstructionists, though these constitute a minority of the body. A majority of MPs have already declared their support for the national accord government.

Since the Presidential Council’s arrival in the capital, its popular support has grown markedly. Municipal councils and elected administrative councils have continued to come out in support of it, while the National Oil Corporation, members of the oil facilities guard, and the Central Bank of Libya have also declared their support and begun working with the council.

The Presidential Council is now due to hold meetings with institutions like the Central Bank, the Administrative Oversight Agency, and the National Oil Corporation to discuss the consequences of the recent turmoil in the country resulting from divisions fed by regional parties.

On Sunday, the head and members of the council met with mayors from the western and southern regions of the country who welcomed its entry to Tripoli and wished it success in the coming period. The meeting also addressed the role of the municipalities in providing services, and ideas were discussed to enable the municipalities to play this role.

A spokesman for the council said that in the meeting chairman Fayez Al-Sarraj had stressed the important role municipalities played in providing a better life for all citizens of the country and had also affirmed its desire to overcome the difficulties facing the country by addressing the issue of displaced Libyans and the provision of basic services.

Mayors in attendance included those from Tarhouna, Al-Shuweiraf, Murzuq, Wadi Al-Bawanis, Al-Gurda Al-Shati, Sabratha, Gharyan, Al-Zawiya, Western Zawiya, Sarman, Al-Jumayl, Rigdalin, Zliten, Al-Ajeilat, Al-Mashashiya, Qasr Khiyar, Al-Khums, Masallata, Misrata, Tawergha, Brak Al-Shati, Wadi Ataba, Ghat, Zawra, and Sirte.

The Presidential Council also met with Central Bank governor Siddiq Al-Kabir and head of the country’s audit bureau Khalid Shakshak, as well as the directors of commercial banks, to devise solutions for the liquidity crunch currently facing Libyan banks and the fall in the exchange rate of the Libyan dinar.

The council met with the head of the Administrative Council and the director-general of the Social and Economic Development Fund to discuss the administrative and fiscal status of the fund and its subsidiaries and to find solutions to the challenges facing them.

The council issued two decrees on Sunday. The first creates a committee to oversee budgetary expenditure headed by vice-chair of the Council Fathi Majberi, while the second freezes the bank accounts of all ministries and state institutions, with the exception of salary payments, until the administrative and fiscal situation in the country can be sorted out.

However, confusion still prevails as to the stance of head of the parliament Khalifa Haftar and his local and regional supporters on the Libyan political accord, the Presidential Council, and the national accord government.

This group rejects both the Presidential Council and the UN-brokered accord, making no distinction between them. The accord states that the Presidential Council named in the agreement signed in Skhirat in Morocco on 17 December is part of the agreement and has a legitimacy equivalent to that of the bicameral legislature.

The rejectionists seem to have forgotten that the agreement says that all these bodies derive their legitimacy from the accord document.

In an attempt to obstruct the operation of the council, which is waiting for the House of Representatives to pass a vote of confidence in the government announced in January, parliamentary speaker Aqila Saleh stated his objections to the council’s entry to Tripoli in a televised address.

He has insisted that the government work under Haftar and from outside Tripoli, since he refuses to negotiate with the forces in control of the capital.

Because of Haftar’s control of the parliament, it has not been able to meet regularly in its seat in Tobruk since former UN envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon announced the formation of the Presidential Council of the national accord government.

The motion of confidence in the government has been postponed five times due to the lack of the quorum needed for a confidence vote and the veiled threats of the obstructionists. Supporters of the accord, meanwhile, insist that the session must enjoy international legitimacy, in furtherance of the principles of transparency and integrity.

The Arab League welcomed the council’s move to the capital, with Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi urging all parties to cooperate with the national accord government in assuming its responsibilities.

 Al-Arabi called on all the Libyan parties, especially tribal heads, prominent figures, and civil society organisations, to rally round the national accord government. He also affirmed the Arab League’s support for the government in taking the measures required to build new state institutions.

An Arab League statement said that Al-Arabi had consulted with Libya’s neighbours, including Algerian Minister of North African, African Union, and Arab League affairs Abdel-Qader Messahel, Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, as part of the “follow-up to the Tunisian statement issued at the eighth meeting of foreign ministers of neighbouring countries, which affirmed the need to support the national accord government and its return to assume its responsibilities in the Libyan capital.”

The secretariat of the Arab Maghreb Union also announced its “profound relief” at the Presidential Council’s arrival in Tripoli. In a statement, the secretariat welcomed this “important development, which is a building block towards the completion of the political transition in Libya.”

It called on all parties to support and assist the accord government in performing its duties and restoring stability to Libya, as well as “meeting the challenge of terrorism”.

It added that support for the accord government would strengthen joint Maghreb action to realise the aspirations of peoples in the region for an integrated Maghreb in which security, stability, and prosperity would prevail.

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