Presidency Council division casts shadow over municipal polls

A dispute has emerged among the members of Libya’s Presidency Council (PC) of the Government of National Accord (GNA) while the nation is preparing for the upcoming municipal elections that may contribute to ending the ongoing political crisis.

Three members of the PC, Ahmed Maiteeg, Fathi Al-Majbari, and Abdulsalam Kajman hold the head of the council, Faiez Sarraj, responsible for the deterioration of the political scene in Libya, and the inability of political parties that signed the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) in the Moroccan city of Skhirat, three years ago, to move forward.

A Saturday statement allegedly signed by the three members, but not published on the GNA’s affiliated websites, said Sarraj’s policies may lead to the destruction of state institutions, and return Libyans “back to zero.”

According to the statement, the PC under the administration of Sarraj has become a part of the political crisis and internal conflicts in Libya rather than a “tool for solution.” They called for an immediate stop to what they called “monopoly” of making important decisions without consulting the other members.

The statement, whose authenticity could not be ascertained, received no immediate reaction from Sarraj.

The terms of the LPA, which was signed in December 2015 and gave birth to the PC and the GNA, stipulate that PC decisions are to be taken by consensus.

“Any decision taken by the Presidency Council, in accordance with its competencies listed in Article 8.2 of the Agreement, shall require unanimity of the President of the Presidency Council and his deputies,” according to the terms.

The new but not first open split within the PC comes at a time when a referendum and elections are planned ahead.

Last month, Maiteeg went on record opposing Sarraj’s appointment of Ehmaid Ben Omar as health minister, replacing Omar Bashir Al-Taher.

He said it had not been presented to other PC members for approval and therefore violated the LPA; hence, the appointment was “invalid.”

The nine-member PC is already effectively down to five members. Ali Gatrani and Omar Aswad stopped participating almost from the start, Musa Koni resigned in January 2017 and Fathi Majbri has stopped attending although he remains a member.

Libya remains divided between the UN-backed GNA, based in Tripoli and led by Faiez Sarraj, and a rival administration in the east led by Commander Khalifa Haftar that has support from Egypt, Russia, and the UAE.

The upcoming municipal elections is expected to pave the way for Libya’s democratic process and presidential elections, which was originally set for late 2018. However, the date was abandoned under a new initiative led by the UNSMIL to hold them in spring 2019.

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