Despite not being formally legitimised by a House of Representatives’ vote on the Libya Political Agreement (LPA), the State Council again met today in Tripoli, this time to discuss its administrative rules.
Last Tuesday, several dozen members of the General National Congress (GNC) announced the approval of the LPA, the GNC dissolved and the State Council in session. They then proceeded to elect Misratan politician Abdulrahman Sewehli as president and Saleh Makhzoum, the former GNC second deputy president, as the Council’s first deputy president.
The move has proved controversial, with numerous political figures saying that until the House of Representatives (HoR) amends the 2011 Constitutional Declaration and incorporates the LPA, the State Council does not exist. There have been protests in Tripoli and Benghazi against it and the deputy HoR president of, Emhemed Shouaib, who is also a member of the Libya Dialogue team has called its self-declared establishment a violation of the LPA. There would be a meeting of the Libya Dialogue on Thursday to discuss the matter, he said yesterday.
Another member of the Libya Dialogue, Misrata’s Fathu Bashagha, who is also a member of the HoR, has criticised the proposed Thursday meeting, saying that it “complicates matters”. On his Facebook page he queried the motivation for the meeting asking why there had been no similar session when in January the HoR demanded that Article 8 be deleted from the LPA.
Under Article 8, the powers exercised by all top military, civil and security officials are transferred to the Presidency Council and it is supposed to reappoint the occupants of those offices within 20 of the signing of the LPA. The article is seen as affecting in particular the position of General Khalifa Hafter, appointed by the HoR as head of the Libyan armed forces.
In any event, the Presidency Council has not reappointed anyone to the posts within the timeframe specified and has effectively set the article aside.
Bashagha also pointed out that there had been other LPA violations, such as some HoR members in February opposed to the deal physically preventing a vote on it.
For his part, Makhzoum has insisted that the meeting of the State Council was legitimate because at Tuesday’s meeting, the GNC had amended the Constitution and legalised the LPA. That, he claimed, in no way contradicted the HoR’s role in approving it. The State Council, he said, was committed to the LPA and the HoR was the country’s sole legislature.