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Libya - Government

Protesters stormed the headquarters of Libya's constitution drafting authority on 29 July 2017, after it unanimously introduced a constitution draft. The authority met today with a quorum of 43 members to vote on a draft constitution after amendments made by members. A draft was approved by 42 members out of 60. The head of the eastern-based parliament, Agila Saleh, stressed the need to amend the constitutional declaration to form a committee of specialists to draft a constitution, in view of the "failure of the constitution authority to produce a draft."

On 25 July 2017 Prime Minister of the Libyan Government of National Accord Fayez Sarraj and Libyan National Army (LNA) Commander Khalifa Haftar decided to create a roadmap on the issues of security and defense of the Libyan territory from threats and trafficking of all kinds. Both sides in the Libyan conflict agreed to the terms of a cease-fire agreement during talks mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Up until this point, Haftar had rejected the authority of the U.N.-backed government. His forces have gained ground in the east of the country, with the support of Egypt and United Arab Emirates. Western governments were pushing a U.N.-backed political agreement to unify the country under which Serraj's Tripoli-based government was installed.

Libyan factions tentatively agreed on 14 Febuary 2017 on an Egypt-brokered roadmap to heal divisions with the creation of a joint committee to negotiate reconciliation and elections by February 2018. The leader of the eastern forces of Operation Dignity, which is an operation appointed by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), Khalifa Haftar, initially refused to meet the Government of National Accord’s Prime Minister, Fayez Al-Sirraj, in Cairo, Egypt. Fayez al-Sarraj and rival army chief Marshal Khalifa Haftar had been in Cairo this week for talks mediated by the Egyptian army. They finally agreed to set up "a joint committee" to formulate amendments to the deal that set up the unity government.

By February 2016 Libya had at least four "governments", though a year later there were only three.

  1. A Daesh-affiliated extremist group set up shop in Sirte, Ghadaffi's home town, and amalgamated Jihadis with former regime elements, as was done in Syria/Iraq. The UN-backed Government of National Accord captured the Islamic State group's main stronghold in Sirte, effectively defeating for now the extremists' attempt to extend their caliphate to Libya.
  2. Turkey and Qatar recognized the Islamist militia-backed General National Congress in Tripoli, and its leaders cannot even travel abroad freely. A self-declared prime minister said 12 January 2017 that his forces had seized at least three ministries in Libya's capital, declaring what appeared to be a miniature coup after what he described as a yearlong failure of the UN-backed premier. Khalifa Ghwell claimed his forces control the ministries of defense, labor and the "martyrs and the wounded." His so-called National Salvation government was formed by the outgoing parliament after a disputed 2014 transfer of power that led to the establishment of rival governments, each backed by an array of militias.
  3. A new UN-backed Government of National Accord headed by Fayez al-Sarraj was formed on 19 January 2016 under a UN-backed plan, but the participants in this scheme were acting in their personal copacity, rather than as representatives of the two existing governments, which were expected to wither away. The U.N. helped establish this third government in Tripoli under Fayez Serraj, a Western-backed technocrat, hoping he could unify Libya and lead the fight against Islamic extremists. The Tripoli government became just another player in that divide, reliant on its militia allies. Chief among those allies are the militias of the neighboring city of Misrata, the strongest and most cohesive fighting force in the west.
  4. The House of Representatives (HoR) government in Tobruk enjoyed broad international recognition and free access to international forums. The internationally recognized parliament, based in Libya's east, does not recognize the authority of Serraj or Ghwell. It was closely allied with Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, whose forces have been battling Islamic militants in recent years. Hifter's forces overran several oil terminals last year, and he has cultivated support from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Russia.

Under the UN deal, UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) would include the presidential council to lead a unified government. The the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk will be the main legislature, while a State Council made up mainly of General National Congress members would be a second, consultative chamber. Elections were supposed to be held within six months.

Many people had been excluded from the UN agreement, especially tribal and former Gadhafi officers as well as over a million Libyan exiles in Egypt and Tunisia. There were concerns that GNA would go the way of previous short-lived post-Gadhafi governments — quickly being held hostage by town-based, secessionist and Islamist militias, who were now just biding their time and repositioning themselves politically, waiting to see how the GNA fared. Qatar and Turkey supported the pro-Islamist General National Congress (GNC), while Egypt along with the United Arab Emirates has been supportive of the the once internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR) based in Tobruk, especially of former Gaddafi general Khalifa Haftar.

Libya's Presidential Council announced on 19 January 2016 the formation of a new unity government under a UN-backed plan. The new government, headed by Fayez Al-Serraj, comprised 32 ministers and four deputies to the prime minister, according a decision issued by the Tunis-based council. It would assume its powers after the House of Representatives' approval, the decision stated. The presidential council was formed under a UN-backed agreement signed by Libya's rival political parties on 17 December 2015 in Morocco.

Libyan leaders from the country's two rival parliaments signed a national unity agreement in the Moroccan resort town of Skhirat, after a number of final obstacles were worked out 17 December 2015. The UN-backed unity government will only add to the confusion, with the troubled North African nation already split between two rival governments and parliaments.

On 15 January 2016, the Presidency Council presented a cabinet for approval by the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives voted to endorse the Libyan Political Agreement in principle, but it requested the Presidency Council nominate a new and smaller cabinet. After days of deliberations, on 14 February the Presidency Council finalized a new list of candidates for a streamlined cabinet.

On 22 February, the House of Representatives met to consider the Presidency Council's second cabinet. However, its session was interrupted by a minority of parliamentarians who opposed the vote, and resorted to threats and intimidation preventing the majority to freely express its vote. Nonetheless, this majority gathered 100 signatures in support of endorsement of the new cabinet and its programm.”

The Libya Political Agreement and the institutions validated by it, include the Government of National Accord as the sole legitimate government of Libya. A new prime minister was also named. The new prime minister, Fayez Saraj, a 55-year-old member of the Tripoli-based government, thanked the international community for its efforts in bringing together the Libyan parties and urged everyone to cooperate. The United Nations had announced Fayez Saraj as the New Prime Minister of the national unity government in Libya on 10 October 2015.

The peace deal called for a nine-member presidential council, three each from Libya’s regions of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan, to form a government with the current, eastern-based House of Representatives as the main legislative and a State Council as a second consultative chamber. The presidential council will name a new government in a month and a UN Security Council resolution will endorse it. The contact group of countries agreed to cease official contacts with individuals claiming to be part of institutions which are not validated by the Libya Political Agreement.

Libya formed a 13-member consensus government on 15 Feburayr 2016, almost a year after launching UN-brokered peace talks aiming to resolve the political turmoil in the North African state. The Libyan consensus government was formed, and it includes 13 ministers.

Neither of the the two rival parliaments endorsed the proposed government. The two bodies don’t agree on much, but they do agree on blocking this deal. Sections in both factions reject the deal and questions remain about how it will be implemented. The agreement faces resistance from factions within both Libya's rival parliaments, including the presidents of both assemblies.

The leaders of the two rival Libyan parliaments met in Malta on 15 December 2015 in an attempt to circumvent a new unity government handpicked by the United Nations. The sought to dead-leg what they saw as a US-backed government and an “imposition” on political and tribal leaders across the oil-rich country. Some quarters compared it to the puppet government the US imposed on Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years.

In the absence of a formal approval from the House of Representatives based in Tobruk or the General National Congress in Tripoli, the UN special envoy Martin Kobler has selected a number of other MPs and political leaders who agree with the deal to travel to Skhirat, in Morocco, to sign the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) . Only 88 lawmakers from the two parliaments were present at the signing. The eastern parliament had 156 known members, while the rival parliament in Tripoli had 135. They signed in their personal capacity, rather than as official representatives of their two governments.

The new ‘unity government’ headed by Faiez Serraj could be based in Malta since it does not enjoy the support of the majority of MPs in the two elected parliaments and has no seat of power in Libya. Another option would be to have the government "exiled" in Tunisia. The US, Russia and other Western countries are are prepared to support the so-called Libyan National Army led by renegade general Khalifa Haftar as long as the general backs the new unity government.

On 06 December 2015 the two rival governing bodies in Libya announced they had reached an agreement aimed at ending the power standoff which followed Moammar Gadhafi's overthrow. Under the declaration of principles, the two governments would set up a 10-member committee which would be tasked with naming an interim prime minister and deputies within a fortnight. The agreement would aim for legislative elections within two years. Another committee would be set up to revise the Libyan constitution. The UN rejected this plan.

Some analysts say the negotiating process for the political settlement wasn’t inclusive enough and warn the odds are against the new government being able to bring order to the highly fractious North African country. “The U.N.-brokered Libya peace agreement is hamstrung by security challenges, the uncertainty that it may actually end up producing a third power center in a country that already has two rival governments, and questions about whether the envisaged national unity government can even operate from Tripoli,” says Karim Mezran, a senior fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.

On 22 December 2015 the presidents of the GNC and HoR, Nuri Abu Sahmain and Ageela Saleh, called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to delay recognition of the new Government of National Accord, which is to be led by Faiez Serraj. The majority of the rump GNC members appeared to agree with Sahmain, who had denounced legislature members who signed the deal for the Government of National Accord.

The unity government’s authority remained patchy even in the west of the country — which was dramatically demonstrated in early June 2016 when Tripoli’s general prosecutor confirmed that the bodies of at least a dozen loyalists of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had been found just days after they were released from detention. The bodies started to be found on 10 June 2016 in different parts of the city, six of them just east of Tripoli’s international airport, at least 17 bodies in all. The victims had been tortured before being shot in their heads.

Libya’s UN-negotiated unity government claimed an offensive that was close to driving Islamic State militants from the coastal city of Sirte was evidence it is making progress at last in establishing its credibility. The offensive, which made rapid advances in eary June 2016, boosted hopes the struggling Government of National Accord (GNA) may be able to build up a new Libyan army on the back of the success and encourage militias loyal to a rival government in the east of the country to defect.

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Page last modified: 31-07-2017 10:31:57 ZULU