By Vanessa Tomassini.
Tangier – Tunisi, 28 November 2020 -The Libyan Dialogue, facilitated by the United Nations, provides for the unification of all State’s institutions in the North African country tormented by almost ten years of civil war. Since Monday, members of the Libyan Parliament, the House of Representatives (HoR), gathered in the Moroccan city of Tangier. That is an event of extreme importance as negotiations saw the participation of the Members of Parliament, internationally recognized, and based in Tobruk, with their colleagues who have been meeting in Tripoli for over two years. In early April 2019, during General Haftar’s campaign for western Libya, 31 members of the House of Representatives issued a public statement in support of the Tripoli offensive, while 49 rejected the military operations. Until now, any attempt to bring parliamentarians together had failed. To understand what is happening, the objectives, and the points of agreement among the more than 100 parliamentarians, we reached in Tangier, in Morocco, the Honorable Asmahan Bellaon, originally from Benghazi, a member of the group of the HoR meeting in Tripoli.
-What are the main topics you discussed during the meeting of the MPs in Morocco, and what are the outcomes?
“The main point was the assembly of the House of Representatives, and we were successful in accomplishing that. We are 120 deputies. Some of the deputies were not so lucky to be present due to the Corona Virus, others had traffic accidents, and we had a colleague who lost her husband. However, most of the deputies are determined to ensure this gathering to exercise their prescribed legislative functions. Overall, the absence of some deputies was by death or illness. Only about 10 of the MPs refused to be present. As a first step, and by next Saturday, we will release a statement or hold a press conference to focus attention on what we have been doing during those three days. We will go to Ghadames, a Libyan city located in the Southwest of the country. From there, we will amend the internal list to reassure the fears of both sides. As you know, there are tensions between the West and the East because of the war. Then, we will examine internal problems, such as the presidency of the House of Representatives and its location. That should be in the city of Benghazi, according to the constitution. However, in these current security conditions, most of the MPs fear going to Benghazi. Especially after what happened to our colleague Seham Sergewa, who had been missing for over a year now.”
-Is it true that Aguila Salah Issa will no longer be the president of the Parliament?
“He will no longer be the president because most of the deputies refuse his presence because they consider him the point of weakness in the House of the Representatives and the reason why there are political divisions within the HoR. Aguila Salah is perceived as a dilemma in the Libyan Parliament. We desire to restore the power of the House of Representatives, to set up a constitutional base for the presidential-parliamentary elections to hand over power to a newly elected person, and to send UNSMIL a clear message that we welcome all kinds of support but up to a certain limit. We welcome some of the outcomes of the meeting in Tunis and Berlin. We welcome any plan that reinforces political agreement. But we refuse any flagrant interference by the UNSMIL that worsens the situation further.”
-Do you think that Aguila Salah could be the next president of the presidential council?
“No, I do not think so, unless it is by appointment, but if we take into consideration the desire of most Libyan people, I do not think he would be elected. As he was one of that inciting war.”
-What can you tell us about a new constitution for Libya? Did you talk about it in those three days?
“Yes, we have. But there will be extended sessions in different Libyan cities because Ghadames does not have the means to hold permanent sessions of the HoR, the assembly will be for three days or a maximum of one week as the potentials of this city are very weak. However, we choose Ghadames for its geographical location with the approval of the deputies, and we will go there to clarify to the people of Libya that we are deputies who speak in their name. This location will change, and it will probably be the city of Sirte. But it seems that the city is not ready to have us because of the war, and the location needs maintenance at least for three months. Our main problem in Libya now is that no city could receive 200 Members of the Parliament, with its departments and committees”.
-Is there a possibility of a meeting of the House of Representatives in Tripoli and Tobruk?
“No, because some of the deputies of the other side support the legitimate system that exists in Tripoli, supporting the Government of Fayez al-Serraj and some the LNA.”
-What do you think of the dialogue promoted by Stephany Williams?
“I think that they made some bad choices, and on which basis they made it.”
-Do you think that the HoR was well represented in the Forum in Tunis?
“Yes, I think so.”
-What do you think about the possibility of moving the Libyan capital from Tripoli to Sirte?
“For now, I think that is highly probable, especially because of the current situation in Libya and Tripoli. However, the transfer of the capital to Sirte would be temporary and not permanent.”
-As a member of the Parliament, who you think will be the next Prime Minister of Libya?