Obstructionist moves should not hinder progress in Libya

Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar is said to be seriously considering running for presidential elections, and that is a first step in the right direction.
Thursday 11/02/2021
A 2015 file picture shows LNA commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar (R)  with outgoing Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh during in the eastern city of Tobruk. (REUTERS)
A 2015 file picture shows LNA commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar (R) with outgoing Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh during in the eastern city of Tobruk. (REUTERS)

Those defeated at the Libyan Dialogue Forum in Geneva have no choice but to accept the new reality created by the results of the vote after the train left the station with the UN’s and international community’s blessing.

These words are aimed in particular at Parliament Speaker Aguila Saleh, who has lost his bet on the Brotherhood and hoped to become the head of the presidential council. He now has to relinquish his position as parliament speaker, which is to be assumed by a figure from Fezzan,while a figure from Cyrenaica will head the presidential council and a figure from Tripoli will serve as prime minister after the elections, according to the roadmap.

Saleh has to help hold an inclusive parliamentary session and not to try to impose prohibitive conditions on the new government. The same applies to the head of the State Council, Khaled al-Mishri, who withdrew from the competition in order to leave room for the Brotherhood to ensure the victory of the list it endorsed (and which included: Saleh, Juwaili, Saif Al-Nasr and Bashagha). But the latter which lost in the last round of voting against the list of Menfi, Al-Lafi, Al-Koni, and Dbeibah.

There are several obstacles standing in the way of the new authorities that threaten a political solution. Losers are driven by their complexes and desire to appear powerful enough to disrupt the next steps in the process.

Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, for example, chose to flex his muscles on his return from Turkey by calling for his allies, as well as officers and employees of the interior ministry andmilitia leaders to welcome him at Mitiga airport, as if to say that greater things are ahead of him and that he deserves to be crowned with wreaths of victory.

Saleh decided to block the the MPs’ call for a reunification session next Sunday in Sabratha by instead trying to convene a consultative session for parliament members next Monday in Tobruk. No one knows why parliament should only convene on Mondays.

Press leaks indicate that as a precondition for supporting the new government, Saleh wants his nephew, Idris Hafiza al-Mabrouk, who is now the chairman of the board of directors of the Libyan Social Security Fund, to hold a ministerial portfolio in the cabinet.

A Libyan voter casts his ballot at a polling station during the municipal elections in Tripoli, February 6, 2021. ( REUTERS)
A Libyan voter casts his ballot at a polling station during the municipal elections in Tripoli, February 6, 2021. ( REUTERS)

The Muslim Brotherhood is now divided. Followers of Grand Mufti Sadiq al-Ghariani denounce the new authorities, calling them “Stephanie’s government.”

But Ali al-Sallabi and his group have agreed to back the transitional process on the condition that “partisan balances” are respected. This means they continue to seek a number of ministerial portfolios for the Justice and Construction Party, which until the last minute has supported Saleh and Bashagha, and sought to achieve its goal of establishing an interim authority that works to postpone the elections as much as possible. The Brotherhood does not want an electoral contest in which they know they will be delivered a huge loss.

The Libyan National Army’s  (LNA’s) leadership, on the other hand, seemed to act pragmatically when announcing its support for the new authorities and expressing its determination to ensure that elections are organised on time.

Those close to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar assert that he is seriously considering running for presidential elections, and that in itself is an important achievement. Relying on the ballot boxes is a first step in the right direction.

The new authorities will have to face all obstacles decisively. There is nothing that can delay Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj from leaving office and settling in a Gulf capital, where he has purchased a decent apartment, now that he is relieved from the burden of responsibility that had been thrust upon him for five years.

Sarraj must give way to the new presidential council, which does not need to be approved by parliament to assume power. The new prime minister must form his cabinet quickly. His choice of cabinet members must be based first and foremost on efficiency and integrity. He must not worry much about parliament’s position towards the cabinet as the alternative to its approval was laid out by the international roadmap. It is to seek the confidence of the Political Dialogue Forum that was behind his election to the premiership. He must bear in mind that whoever elected him yesterday will not abandon him today.

Libyans can be optimistic about the new authorities, while the international community must be firm in dealing with anyone who attempts to disrupt the new scene.

The Military Committee should take advantage of the new atmosphere to implement all provisions of the Geneva accord.

Social actors should move right away towards national reconciliation in preparation for presidential and parliamentary elections that should not exclude anyone.

Libyans can then exercise their right to determine their country’s future without giving any foreign party the opportunity to sow disunity among them.

Obstructionist moves should not hinder the progress of the new authorities in Libya or delay the date of the elections, scheduled for December 24.