The Libyan House of Representatives (HOR) in Tobruk, one of Libya’s two parliaments rejected the proposed list of ministers proposed the Tunis based Presidency Council. One HOR representative said the proposed government had been rejected for being too large, with 32 ministers the proposal exceeded the cabinet size set forth in the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA).
The LPA which was signed in Skhirat, Morocco on December 17, 2015, had been reached after a year of negotiations and is aimed at reconciling Libya’s rival parliaments.
104 members of the HOR attended the vote with 89 voting against the proposed government, and demanded a new government proposal within 10 days. The HOR had been given a deadline of 10 days by the LPA to approve or reject the government.
The list had been proposed on January 19 by the head of the Presidency Council Faiez Serraj after a month of internal negotiations which saw two of the Council’s nine members walk out and missed a thirty day deadline by 48 hours. The Presidency Council is based in Tunis and tasked with forming a Government of National Accord that both the HOR and the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli can agree to.
The HOR’s rejection of a list which, as the 48 hour extension suggests, was rushed together is not necessarily a step back. In voting in seven days instead of the 10 allotted to it, the HOR has put the Presidency Council back onto the agreed upon schedule. Furthermore, the LPA was agreed upon by delegations of both the GNC and HOR, both of which are fractious themselves; neither the HOR nor GNC have formally voted on the LPA itself, (a step which was intentionally avoided). In rejecting the proposed government on a technicality, albeit an important one, the HOR has seemingly given its tacit approval to the LPA itself.
The head of the United Nations Special Mission in Libya, Martin Kolber, issued a statement which seemed to imply as much: “I take note of the reservation of the House of Representatives on article (8) and remind all parties that any amendment to the LPA must be in line with the mechanism of the Libyan Political Agreement.” Kobler added “We will continue consultations with all parties to find consensual solution to all outstanding issues,”
Factions with both the HOR and the GNC, but the GNC in particular, have attempted to renegotiate portions of the agreement which has been repeatedly declared as final by Kolber, and his predecessor Bernardino Leon. An internationally ministerial co-chaired by the United States and Italy was held in Rome in December, affirmed that the internationally community would not tolerate further negotiations or amendments and was weighing international intervention in Libya.
The formation of a Government of National Accord is seen as a necessary precursor for foreign military assistance or intervention to dislodge the Islamic State in Libya which has established a stronghold in the centrally located city of Sirte.
The HOR was forced out of Tripoli in late 2014 after the previous Islamist government refused to recognize the outcome of elections which would have seen it ousted from power. The Islamists resurrected the General National Congress (GNC) after seizing Tripoli and exiling the HOR.