Threat of division hovers over Libya

Article Summary
With the emergence of threats against the residents of Misrata, Libya, fears are emerging of the possible creation of two governments in the country.

On June 5, 2014, in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, posts appeared on websites promising to target the citizens of Misrata unless the Central Libya Shield forces withdrew from Tripoli. The forces had entered the city days ago under the slogan of protecting legal institutions — including the General National Congress (parliament) and the government — from attacks that might be launched by militant groups supporting retired Gen. Khalifa Hifter. Meanwhile, fears regarding the rise of two authorities in the country — in the capital and in the east — are growing due to the disputes over the legitimacy of the government.

The online posts, which were signed by the Free Tripoli Guardian, demanded the Shield forces return to Misrata within 72 hours and to leave the task of protecting the capital to its inhabitants. Meanwhile, the Libyan city is in a state of anticipation. It is waiting for the protests that are expected to be staged today to support “Operation Dignity,” led by Hifter under the slogan of “fighting terrorism and decreasing the influence of Islamist militias in the country.”

Developments have quickly taken a dangerous turn that might lead to a possible division of legitimacy between two parliaments and governments fighting over power. Meanwhile, the judiciary has adjourned the session to look into the lawsuit to annul the legitimacy of Ahmed Maiteeq’s new government until next Monday [June 9]. The Supreme Court and administrative judiciary will issue their relevant verdicts on Monday as well.

What fueled the fears of two parliaments and governments even more was caretaker Prime Minister Abdullah Thani’s moving to Marj city (east of Benghazi) along with several ministers, in the wake of a meeting of 40 MPs appealing against the legitimacy of Speaker Nuri Bushmin’s decision to keep Maiteeq in his position. The meeting was held in Al Bayda’ city near Marj, thus giving rise to speculations about a coordination between Thani and these members known as the “Group of 94,” with the consent of, and perhaps coordination from, Hifter, whose forces are tightening their grip on Benghazi, Al Bayda’ and Marj.

Well-informed sources in Benghazi told Al-Hayat that the possibility of the emergence of two executive and legislative authorities based in Al Bayda’ cannot be ruled out if Maiteeq remains in power.

The Supreme Court’s ruling to annul the procedures of keeping Maiteeq as prime minister and successor of Thani was adjourned until next Monday. The Supreme Court Law notes that its rulings are final and cannot be appealed. It is expected that the administrative judiciary will issue a ruling regarding a lawsuit filed by Thani’s government against Maiteeq, which means that both rulings will be issued on the same day.

The Supreme Court’s Constitutional Chamber, led by judge Kamal Dahan, listened to the pleas of the lawyers representing 14 MPs who had appealed against Bushmin’s decision to keep Maiteeq in his position, because Bushmin was outside the country during the voting sessions on May 18. In their appeal, the appellants argued that it was debatable whether the session, which compared Maiteeq and candidate Omar al-Hassi, complied with the provisions of the parliament’s by-laws. The chamber also listened to the plea of the new government’s lawyers who dubbed the Supreme Court incompetent in looking into the appeal.

Legal and political activist Mahmoud al-Ramli told Al-Hayat that the Constitutional Chamber’s examination of the appeal against Maiteeq’s government “indicates that there is justice and an independent judiciary that looks into the legality of a decision issued by the highest legislative authority.”

Meanwhile, the Coordination Committee of Political Isolation submitted a memorandum to the Supreme Court confirming that the law of isolation, which was ratified by the parliament, applies to Maiteeq and demanding to attach the memorandum to the appeal file.

Muhyi al-Din Abu Aoun, a member of the Coordination Committee of Political Isolation, told Al-Hayat that the memorandum stated: “Maiteeq was a member of the Military Revolutionary Committee affiliated with the revolutionary committees’ communication office.” This committee was the political and regulatory arm of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

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Found in: political conflict, parliament, libya, legitimacy, government, benghazi
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