[The following report was issued by Bokra Youth Organization and H2O Team on 28 September 2013. This is the eighteenth in a year-long series of reports covering the actions of Libya`s General National Council. This issue focuses on the period from 15 September to 30 September 2013. Click here to access the previous report.]
Eye on the Libyan General National Congress: Eighteenth Report
The General National Conference (GNC) held five sessions in which the GNC discussed the national security situation and listened to several reports submitted by the heads and members of GNC committees that deal with the security situation. These discussions culminated in the formation of a specialized crisis team to address the current situation and security threats as well as to take whatever action necessary to protect oil ports, water resources, and different assets. GNC members agreed by a majority to confirm Mohammed Khalil Ben Saud as Minister of Information in the Interim Government in place of Yousef Mohammed Elsharif who submitted his resignation earlier. The GNC granted the Defense Ministry 208 million Libyan Dinars to pay the salaries of 1,100 contract members of the Defense Ministry following the GNC vote on a proposal submitted by the Committee on Budget, Strategy and Finance to approve the appropriation procedures for additional funding. In addition, GNC members voted to ratify certain international conventions, among them the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Montreal Protocol amendments to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. Lastly, the GNC accepted the resignations of Abdulmoneim Farag Louhichi, Mohammed Abdelkarim Doma, and Mustafa Amer Ali Solah.
General National Congress Sessions:
On September 1st, 2013 the GNC held a meeting to discuss the national security situation and listened to several reports submitted by some of the heads and members of the committees related to the security situation. The GNC reviewed selections from the Libyan Intelligence Service report on the security situation in southern Libyan. It should be mentioned that GNC member Mohammed Toumi provided a memo which demanded an urgent meeting with the Interim Government to set an agenda to solve all the security issues. It calls for an effective activation of the Army and Police forces. In the memo, Toumi also asked to study the possibility of inviting the military forces of friendly Islamic countries to work with the true revolutionaries to help establish security and undercut those who he described as enemies of the February 17th Revolution. GNC member Abdulwahab Alqaid provided a proposal to form a crisis team within the GNC. This team would meet over a period of 24 hours to solve any struggles that may arise in national affairs. During today’s session, the GNC previewed a memo submitted by the Regulatory Body of the GNC, concerning the work of the head and undersecretary of the Administrative Control Authority. Abdulsalam Saad Mohammad Hasi was chosen to be the head of the Authority and Nasr Mohammed Hassan was chosen to be his undersecretary, following a vote by GNC members. With regard to this, Abdulhamid Ismail Yarboa, member of the Audit Bureau and Integrity and Anti-Corruption Committee, said that Hasi received 74 out of 130 votes while the undersecretary received 75 votes. Yarboa also noted that Hasi will take the constitutional oath in front of the GNC next Tuesday and begin the work of separating the Audit Bureau from the Surveillance Office which were previously integrated under one body. Meanwhile, a vote took place on articles 17-19 of the law No. 7 concerning the Interim Government and the authority to make transfers between the budget sections.
Commenting on the continuation of the National Dialogue, GNC member Zainab Tarqi stated that the draft Law on Transitional Justice is always included at the end of the session’s agenda which causes it to be postponed until the next session, which means it has not been discussed before today. This is the case despite the fact that it has been on the GNC agenda for over five months. Tarqi also expressed her dissatisfaction with the procrastination of the GNC Presidency on this matter, as though it is not aware of its importance. The GNC Presidency must place the issue at the top of the GNC legislative agenda and hurry to discuss it as soon as possible instead of discussing sovereign positions and the appointment of ambassadors, which the Presidency gives more attention. Tarqi continued to say that during the past few weeks the GNC had discussed the national security situation, but had not reached any solution that would benefit the country, except for the Defense, Interior, and National Security Committees which blamed the Prime Minister for the current security problems in the country. In addition, Tarqi said that the GNC Presidency forgets its legislative role, noting that a number of GNC members orient the work of the GNC toward executive rather than legislative work.
On September 3rd, 2013 the GNC held a session to continue to discuss the national security situation, in which GNC members’ proposals were heard. Reviewing the most important of these proposals, GNC Spokesman Omar Humaidan noted during a press conference that the session had been held especially to discuss the national security situation and attempt to implement a plan of action to confront the dangers faced by Libya. Humaidan added that he held a small meeting with the heads of political blocs as well as some of the independents, in which action plans and proposals to deal with the security situation were also put forward. Humaidan indicated that the formation of a crisis team has been reached, which will be specialized to address the situation and deal with security threats, as well as doing whatever it takes to protect oil ports, water resources, and different assets. This team can recruit whoever it deems necessary for its tasks and it is also the right of this team to adopt measures, and issue decisions and laws related to its tasks. Humaidan added that a decision will be issued to form this committee to manage the current crisis, clarifying that the duration of the committee’s work will be one week and it will work 24 hours a day. With regard to the committee members, Humaidan said it will comprise 13 GNC members from each constituency. Humaidan mentioned that the decision to form the committee garnered agreement and consensus from all the GNC members, noting that the committee has no power to announce a war or to call for assistance from foreign forces.
In other news, Humaidan announced that the head of the Administrative Control Authority and its Deputy took the constitutional oath today in order to start their work. He also mentioned that it was decided to discuss a memo submitted by the government on commodity support and another memo about municipalities submitted by some of the GNC members. Also on today’s agenda items was a review of a proposal submitted by the GNC Committee on Budget, Strategy and Finance to approve the allocation procedures for additional appropriations, in addition to discussion of both the draft law on Transitional Justice and the National Dialogue.
On September 8th, 2013 the GNC held a session in which GNC member Zainab Tarqi said that the GNC suspended its morning session to discuss the current security situation due to a meeting of the crisis team with the heads of the GNC and the interim government.
GNC President, Nuri Abu Sahmain announced that any statement on the GNC proceedings that is not attributed to the GNC Presidency, the GNC sessions, the GNC Official Spokesman, the GNC media management, its website or the country’s official channel are illegal and unfounded. In addition, those giving statements intended to undermine the safety of citizens or cause domestic disturbance will be held legally accountable for publicizing such statements.
In another context, the Crisis Management Committee mandated with finding solutions to the current situation in the country presented its report to the GNC in today’s session. The highlights of discussions were a memo submitted by the GNC Committee on Budget, Strategy and Finance to approve the additional appropriation procedures for the budget, which was requested by the government; the memo submitted by some of the GNC Committees and members about municipalities; and the continuation of discussions of the draft law on Transitional Justice Law and the National Dialogue.
The GNC reviewed the proposal submitted by the Prime Minister about naming Mohammed Khalil Ben Saud as Minister of Information in order to replace Yousef Mohammed Elsharif, who resigned from the interim government.
On September 10th, 2013 the GNC held a session to discuss the same issues as the previous two sessions. The GNC also planned to vote on a memo submitted by the GNC Media Committee to approve Mohammed Khalil Ben Saud as the Minister of Information. GNC member Nadia Rushd said that the hearing on the Crisis Management Committee report was postponed. She attributed the postponement to the committee’s meeting with the Interim Government and speculated that the committee will provide its final report about the security situation during the evening session after the end of the meeting. Rushd added that today is the last day for the Crisis Management Committee to hand in its final report.
With regard to a memo submitted by the Information Committee, it is worth mentioning that a majority of GNC members agreed to appoint Mohammed Khalil Ben Saud as Minister of Information in the interim government in place of Yousef Mohammed Elsharif who earlier submitted his resignation. Prime Minister Ali Zidan was the one who nominated Mohammed Khalil Ben Saud as the Minister of Information in his government.
On September 15th, 2013 the GNC held a session to discuss a memo submitted by the GNC Committee on Budget, Strategy and Finance to approve additional appropriation procedures for the budget. Meanwhile, the GNC agreed to grant the Ministry of Defense an amount of 208 million Libyan Dinars to pay the salaries of 1,100 contract members following the GNC’s vote on the aforementioned memo. In addition, the GNC decided to ratify certain international conventions including the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as voting on the Montreal Protocol amendments to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. The election of the GNC Vice President was postponed until September 29th, 2013. It is expected that the GNC will review the results of the meeting between the GNC President’s Office and the Justice Committee and Judicial Bodies to consider the Attorney General’s demand to lift the immunity of three GNC members.
In an interview with Libya TV Channel, Nizar Kawan and Jamaa Saaih commented on the lifting of the immunity of three GNC members, Hajer Gaid, Altwati Aida, and Jamaa Saaih. The interview went as follows:
Libya TV to Nizar Kawan: What are your reasons for filing the libel and slander suit against the three mentioned GNC members? Were there any attempts for a settlement, demanding clarification, or reconciliation prior to the current escalation?
Nizar Kawan: Firstly, the right of litigation is a right guaranteed by divine laws, legal ordinances, and international conventions, and thus it is an inherent right for every citizen ensured by all constitutions of the world as well as by the Libyan constitutional declaration and laws. Several GNC members spoke to the media, charging their GNC colleagues with huge accusations, of brokerage, treachery, and connections with foreign agendas, as well as accusations of involvement in bombings, killings, and shameful words. These GNC members have not provided any evidence, argument, or proof for these accusations. The issue touches upon the safety of citizens. The statements have had very negative repercussions, such as the ports blockade and the crisis of oil exports, and hence threatening the lifeline of the state. Therefore this decision is not about partisan motives, but has to do with the higher national interests. We decided to go to the judiciary to consolidate the rule of law and justice and we said that the judiciary will be between us and them. If they had evidence, they must hand it to the judiciary to do justice for everyone and reinforce these just principles in our state.
Libya TV to Nizar Kawan: GNC member Altwati Aida said that the Attorney General has made several complaints recently but there has not been any reaction to them. Now the complaints are harming the Muslim Brotherhood especially the Justice and Construction Party in Libya. What do you think about this?
Nizar Kawan: This kind of talk is not befitting of a GNC member and statesman. We do not doubt the integrity of our judiciary. There is a judicial institution and there is an Attorney General who was chosen by the GNC. This matter concerns those who have made complaints. You make your request and the Attorney General will deal with it according to regulations, laws, and the established system and in the end the justice will be done. I do not know of any similar suits that have been rejected by the Attorney General, but that is a question for him. Regardless, so that we do not stray too far from the issue and get bogged down with conspiracy theories, let’s move on. Nowadays the media has a very delicate and dangerous role in confounding the public opinion and influencing the political – as well as security – scene. As I mentioned before, I am here based on the statement of the oil workers’ union and the words of the National Oil Corporation President at a hearing session of the GNC, when it was said that those who besiege the lifeline of the country relying on statements from GNC members speaking on television and presenting themselves as master orators but without any facts to substantiate their claims will later find they have no answers when the community and the GNC demand the facts. As the Libyan saying goes, “since you did it to yourself, you deserve what you get”.
Libya TV to Jamaa Saaih: Today there was a vote to lift your immunity along with that of two other GNC members. Did the vote take place in accordance with the GNC rules of procedure? What do you think the repercussions of this will be and were you are one of those who voted in favor of this?
Jamaa Saaih: We are all under the law and no one is above it, but what happened is contrary to the regulations and procedures. What Mr Kawan said is not true; and this is a man who came to the GNC as though he were an individual and then it turned out that he is from the Muslim Brotherhood, indeed one of their leaders! These are people who want to destroy the country, as one of them said when he spoke to Hassan Lamin, saying that they will lead the country to hell. Lamin replied: so why don’t you go to hell? These are people who want to destroy the country. All the GNC members and I were attacked in Al-Krimiyya on May 3rd, 2013, by a coordinated group led by the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the Justice and Construction Party. I filed a lawsuit with the Attorney General and since then, the immunity of those that stand accused has not been lifted. I’ve also experienced personal affront in the GNC session from some of the GNC members and I filed another lawsuit with the Attorney General and to the GNC, and still they have not lifted those members’ immunity. But when I came out on television and spoke, and everything I said was true… I differed from them in political dialogue which is democracy. I did not say that they closed or stole the oil. So they got mad because I beat them in debate in one or two discussions on “Libya Awalan” channel!
Libya TV to Nizar Kawan: In an effort to bring together the points of views of these GNC members – Mr Jamaa Saaih talked about you and said that there was an attempt to discredit GNC members, and, because they exposed the Justice and Construction Party, their immunity was lifted. What is your comment on this?
Nizar Kawan: This man is my father’s age and I do not want to get involved in words unbecoming of GNC members nor state officials. With regard to the point that I was on the individual list [during the elections] and now belong to a party, this is untrue because the laws were clear. Our problem, unfortunately, is that we are not real GNC members but political enthusiasts. Where there are lists called ‘entities’ and ‘individuals,’ and there is not something called an independent list. Moreover, the law clearly allows, as does the Commission’s statement issued on 30th July, 2013, for one to belong to any political entity whilst being an individual candidate on a list. whoever understands the ABCs of politics and law understands these issues.
Libya TV to Jamaa Saiih: In an effort to bring together the points of views of these GNC members – Mr Nizar Kawan said that what has happened is just routine procedures in a state of law and that there is impartial justice that will take its course in this case. What is your comment on this?
Jamaa Saaih: Firstly, we support the rule of law and we accept the law and no one is above the law and I am not objecting because my own immunity has been lifted, as this is another matter that we accept…. But we object to the double standards! I have been submitting lawsuits to the Attorney General and the GNC President against members for more than 5 months and they did not take any action on them … As a result they show unwillingness in words and what they hide inside is even more! They came as one group because they are the majority in the GNC who control it and lead it to hell as they said. They lifted our immunity, but did not consider our complaints nor the attack we went through in Al-Krimiyya, so why the double standard? They show what is in their hearts, and indeed they lead themselves into hell and not just the country.
All Libyans know now what is happening and I’ll go to the Libyans and invite them to the realization of the truth and get out against those who want to destroy every voice that speaks the truth. Now they want to silence voices and silence the voice of truth, not as they claim to be following the law and realizing truth.
These people are untruthful, unfair, and want to destroy anybody who stands in front of them and there is no way to reconcile with them. We will go out to the Libyans and tell them the truth, and we will see what will be decided by the people, and we will not be threatened by their weapons or shields. Muammar Gaddafi had many of them in the past, but in the end the will of the people removed him!
Finally, the GNC will continue to discuss the issue of National Dialogue and the draft law on Transitional Justice. Alaadin Al-Magrif noted that GNC members from Benghazi pressured the interim government to set a clear timetable to regain control over what Al-Magrif called acts of violence in the city. GNC Official Spokesman Omar Humaidan noted that the GNC reviewed a memo submitted by a number of GNC members to appoint mayors of municipalities, adding that Law No. 59/2012 has been amended to state that mayors of municipalities will be appointed instead of elected. Humaidan also explained that, according to government reports and the GNC Local Government Committee which emphasize the existence of obstacles to electing municipality mayors, both groups recommended the appointment of mayors of municipalities. To amend the law, the matter required 120 votes and the GNC has begun to discuss this article with the parliamentary blocs.
Humaidan also noted in an official GNC statement on the official GNC Facebook page that the GNC held a session on September 15th, 2013 with the Roadmap Committee of the GNC to consider implementing a future map for the GNC. The GNC statement demonstrated that it has met many officials and activists, and listened to the proposals of some GNC members to put this Roadmap into action. He mentioned that there are those who believe that the GNC will finish its work on February 7th, 2013 according to the Constitutional Declaration, while others oppose this view and believe that the Constitutional Declaration did not specify the period of time for the GNC’s duration, but rather tasked it with handing over power to the parliament next year. The constitutional amendment of July 15th, 2013 stated that the Committee of Sixty will be elected rather than appointed. The amendment did not adjust the durations of the roadmap, rather it set the election procedure for the Committee of Sixty, which demanded at least 4 months. This is an imbalance in the provisions and nature of the GNC’s task. The Roadmap Committee also met with the President of the Electoral Commission, stating that the election of the Committee of Sixty will be in December. The Committee of Sixty probably will start its tasks in January next year and therefore the durations set out in Article No. 30 of the Constitutional Declaration will start from that date. This issue needs at least another year to form an elected parliament and this is the vision reported by the Roadmap Committee to the GNC, which agrees with the opinion that says the GNC should stick to its tasks laid out in the Constitutional Declaration and not deal with durations. This is also the point of view of the president of the Electoral Commission; i.e. that the period needed to prepare a new parliament includes “the election of the Committee of Sixty, issuing a new constitution, as well as overseeing parliamentary elections, and requires another year from now.”
In the same context, the GNC information office published GNC Spokesman Omar Humaidan’s announcement that there is no basis to what is being said about the GNC duty ending by February 7th, 2014. Humaidan explained that, according to the constitutional declaration, the GNC is restricted to the task of drafting the constitution and electing the parliament, and then handing authority over. This is in line with the view of the Roadmap Committee which came after consultations with the Supreme Council of the National Commission for Elections and experts in the field, and this matter will not take place before the beginning of 2015.
Decisions Approved by the General National Congress:
- Decision No. 74/2013 regarding resignation acceptance: The GNC issued a decision No. 74 on August 24th, 2013 accepting the resignation of GNC member Abdulmoneim Farag Louhich.
- Decision No. 75/2013 regarding resignation acceptance: The GNC issued a decision No. 75 in August 25th, 2013 accepting the resignation of GNC member Mohammed Abdelkarim Doma.
- Decision No. 76/2013 regarding resignation acceptance: The GNC issued a decision No. 75 in August 25th, 2013 accepting the resignation of GNC member Mustafa Amer Ali Solah.
Laws Approved by the General National Congress:
The GNC issued Law No. 21/2013 on the amendment of some articles of Law No. 7/2013 stated to approve the state budget for the year 2013.
Where the law amends Article 17 of Law No. 7/2013 to approve the state budget, the amendment allows movement of project and program provisions within the sector within the range of the approved percentages. The Finance Minister authorized exceeding the appropriations under certain circumstances as well as authorizing the Cabinet to transfer between sections of the budget based on the scope of the Ministry of Financial Planning and on circumstances.
In addition, the law allows the use of amounts included in the reserve item budget to cover any shortfall occurring in the general budget; according to the regulations prescribed by the Finance Minister and approved by the Cabinet as follows: 2.4 billion Libyan Dinars to repay the children grant, and 3 billion Libyan Dinars to cover up any shortfall in the general budget.
- Direct monitoring of live transmitted sessions
- GNC official website
- Facebook Page of GNC Media Center
- Libyan News Agency
- Al-Tadhamun News Agency
- Libyan Al-Anbaa newspaper
- Social networks of GNC members and parties
[Click here to download the full report.]