Long Live the HoR or Not!
The HoR has yet again tried by hook or crook to extend its lease on life and prolong its modicum of power. It has become a weak authoritarian rubber stamping body, its only goal appears to be to survive. It said that the Constitutional court’s verdict on 6 November 2014 which invalidated the HoR’s legitimacy was not to be followed, and then when its formal mandate expired according to the HoR’s own bylaws as they derive from the amended 3 August 2011 Temporary Constitutional Declaration, the HoR extended its mandate indefinitely.
Now on 22 August 2016, the HoR managed to hold its first session since February 2016 with the required legal quorum, with 101 members in attendance. 61 members voted no confidence, 39 abstained, and only 1 voted in favour of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) cabinet. The motion that they finally drafted gave the Presidential Council (PC) a final opportunity to submit an amended cabinet for a possible future endorsement vote. This could be Fayez Serraj’s death blow.
The session was chaired by HoR President Ageelah Saleh, who called PC members Ali Al Gutrani and Omar Laswad to immediately end their boycott and re-join the council. Interestingly, Saleh also stated that all previous PC decisions were of no legal consequence, as he asserts that the HoR and not the GNA has remained Libya’s sovereign government. This is very reminescent of struggles between the HoR and GNC. In fact a hot war between Libya Dawn and Zintan/Warshefanna is close to breaking out in Libya’s West further increasing the echoes of the summer of 2014.
But more than rekindling tensions, this latest development is primarily a blow to the building governance. The internationally recognised GNA will likely lose whatever effectiveness it has, as certain ministers have already assumed their mandates but may have to now be replaced. In short, the attempts to build a sovereign GNA that would actually make an attempt to govern Libya are likely to be stillborne. But this we have known for a long time. What is new is that the HoR doesn’t want to be blamed for this result and hence have agreed to vote to show the West that there is no democratic legitimacy for the GNA. But this vote of only half the original House confirms no legitimacy. It is an attempt by Libya’s East to not be swallowed up by the Misratans as they emerge victorious against ISIS, but it is likely to create more conflict than it is intended to relieve by making a shooting war between various Western Islamists (like the BDB) and Haftar all the more likely.