By Vanessa Tomassini.
The Libyan House of Representatives (HoR) was elected in 2014 for a four-year term, and the High State Council (HCS), which is the legacy body of the General National Congress, was elected nearly ten years ago in 2012. So far, the leadership of the two Chambers failed to agree on outstanding issues and the elections, programmed on December 24th, 2021, did not happen. Despite the efforts of the international community, the Libyan Parliament, instead of focusing on a constitutional basis, appointed in March 2022 a new government led by the former minister of Interior, Fathi Bashagha, while Abdul Hamid Dabaiba’s executive was still in office.
We try to explore the point of view of the Libyan Parliament and possible ways out of the current political stalemate, in this interview with Al-Mahdi Masoud al-Aawar, Chairman of the Parliament Financial Committee, head of the Fezzan Parliamentary Council, Vice-Chairman of the Parliament’s Economics and Investment Committee, Member of the Libyan House of Representatives, Seventh District, Region of Umm Al-Aranib.
Thank you Mr Al-Aawar for accepting this interview. How are the discussions between the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS) going on the Constitutional basis?
“In the past, there have been discussions but these talks are currently stalled because of the intransigence of the High Council of State and the lack of agreement on a certain constitutional rule. The presidents of the two councils met more than once in Egypt. They reach an agreement and then Mr. Khaled al-Meshri cancelled everything after contacting international and local parties. Alternatives exist and the House of Representatives is currently clinging to the provisions of the agreement and trying to apply them. 74 people of the HCS are currently in line with the House of Representatives but its presidency’s intransigence and control of the council has caused the failure to reach a final consensus. However, there are constant endeavors to reach an agreement. If this is not done, we have all the alternatives and the most recently put forward are to the amended Constitution of 51, the so-called federal system or the three provinces system (Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan).”
Recently the Parliament also adopted a decision of welcoming the resignation of some members and revoked the membership to some MPs covering other positions in the Libyan institutions. Why only now?
“The resignations are currently made by members of the government of Fathi Bashagha, most notably Dr. Hamid Huma and Fathi Bashagha himself. The law is clear and explicit according to the February document: a member of the House of Representatives is not entitled to hold any other office until he is in charge in the Parliament.”
What do you think of the recent Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Government of National Unity with Turkey?
“My opinion is the one of Libyans and the entire world except for Abdul Hamid Dabaiba, his team and Turkey. The trend to support energy deals with Turkey is wrong because it is not a petroleum producing country and it entirely depends on overseas companies. This is considered an obscene stupidity. You can turn to Turkey economically or industrially in some sectors, it can be approached militarily as Fayez Al-Sarraj did, but not on the subject of energy and oil.”
What’s the next? Are we going towards a third path? Who will lead it?
“I don’t think so, the Parliament is holding on its decision. It has launched a government emanating from a Libyan-Libyan agreement. This is what the world objects to. The United Nations and the rest of the world prefer and want that the agreement would be international or, for example, under the auspices of the United Nations. When Libyans came out with a government, the world face it with objection and Parliament will not tolerate and no third option will be resorted to unless Constitution 51 is activated, which is now possible and discussed, the entire map will accordingly change and each of the three territories becomes dependent and in control of their faith. We hope that our brothers in the other political parties will not compel the House of Representatives and the Eastern and Southern Region to approach this resolution. On a personal level, I would not like this to happen. Most countries have a federal system and it’s harmless.”
So, you do not expect a new presidential council and a new government to take over power…
“I do not expect that because Fathi Bashagha’s government exists and has begun to operate and provide services. Also, the Presidential Council, despite its weakness, exists. The Dabaiba government is an end-of-trust and legal government.”
How is the situation in Southern Libya?
“The situation in southern Libya is no different from the rest of the country, in particular in terms of electricity and the provision of government services. Mr. Fathi Bashagha’s government has begun to be present in the Southern region and to provide services to its citizens. In terms of security, the situation is much better and started to improve.”
Do you expect another military confrontation in and around Tripoli?
“No, Libyans do not like these confrontations. I am convinced that Libya will engage in a dialogue for 100 years and not enter into an armed conflict for one single day.”