Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Libya's House of Representatives on track to validate rival government

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, March 1st 2022 à 10:00 | Read 159 times

The Libyan House of Representatives is about to vote confidence in the Bachagha government (photo: HoR)
The Libyan House of Representatives is about to vote confidence in the Bachagha government (photo: HoR)
LIBYA. Libya already had two Prime Ministers. It should have, from Monday 28 February 2022, two governments. Since the appointment by the House of Representatives (HoR) of Fathi Bachagha (former Minister of Interior of the Government of National Accord - GNA) on 10 February 2022 to this post already occupied by Abdel Hamid Dbeibah since March 2021, the country has been prolonging its institutional crisis. After postponing the presidential election twice, at the end of December 2021 and at the end of January 2022, the head of the Government of National Unity (GNU) was challenged by the deputies sitting in Tobruk. These elected representatives, and in particular its president Aguila Saleh, believe that Abdel Hamid Dbeibah's mission is complete since this first failure, while he does not intend to let go of the reins of power until the ballot box has been decided. However, he has eased off by saying that he no longer wants to run for the presidency. This candidacy had been reproached to him because the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, at the origin of his nomination, had established that the designated interim Prime Minister could not run for this mandate.

On Thursday 24 February 2022, only one hour after receiving the list of the new government concocted by Fathi Bachagha, the House of Representatives decided to convene a formal session of Parliament on Monday 28 February 2022 for a vote of confidence in the new team. This speed shows, if it were necessary, that the dice are loaded. Both Aguila Saleh and Marshal Khalifa Haftar - the strongman of the east of the country who had tried to conquer Tripoli by force of arms before signing a permanent ceasefire with the GNA and running to become the first Libyan president - support Fathi Bachagha. He also has the endorsement of the High State Council, which he consulted, as well as the HoR and all political parties, when drawing up his list. The Libyan Parliament should therefore validate this new formation.

Major defection

A few days ago Abdel Hamid Dbeibah indicated that "the appointment of a new transitional government could lead to war. Libyan politicians are walking on eggshells. By next week, the confusion will thicken further with two interim prime ministers and two rival governments all based in the capital Tripoli.

And to add even more uncertainty, the GNU is registering the defection of Mohamed Aoun who is siding with the new Prime Minister. This change of sides is not insignificant. Mohamed Aoun is none other than the current Minister of Oil and Gas, while hydrocarbons represent 97% of the country's income. "We must respect their choices, their priorities, their beliefs and their values in any way we can," he said after the appointment of Fathi Bachagha by the MPs.

However, the minister's decision should also be seen in the context of his visceral opposition to Mustafa Sanalla, the CEO, since 2014, of the all-powerful NOC, the Libyan oil company. Several times, the minister has tried to remove the man who, at the height of the civil war, managed to keep the independence of the NOC torn between the rival powers in the East and West.

Abdel Hamid Dbeibah had announced that he wanted to organise legislative elections by 24 June 2022 at the latest and is no longer giving a date for the election of the head of state. Fathi Bachagha, supported by the vote of a new political roadmap by the House of Representatives, wants a presidential election in fourteen months.

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