By Ken Hanly
A proposal by Ali Al-Gotrani, a member of the Presidential Council (PC) for a transitional phase of the Libyan government with the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Field Marshall, Khalifa Haftar, was reported as reality by the Russian news site Sputnik.
Al-Gotrani is a strong supporter of Haftar who does not recognize the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) or its Presidency Council. The Libya Observer reports that Al-Gotrani told Sputnik that his proposal would end the role of “all institutions in the state except for the House of Representatives, while the army will be the supreme authority in the country”. Gotrani said:
“Every city and district in Libya will be ruled by an appointed military governor and the army will then start disarming the civilian people so that it can control all the country’s borders. Once our country is stable, democracy can take place and all parties can take to the ‘safe polls’ as the constitution drafting committee would be then resuming work as well as presidential and parliamentary elections would take place.”
Gotrani sees this as happening across the whole country including the area now nominally under the control of the Government of National Accord. A spokesperson for the PC, Ashraf Al-Thaithi said Monday that Al-Gotrani’s words speak only for himself and have nothing to do with the PC.
However, the Russian news outlet Sputnik starts out claiming that Libyan armed forces have declared a state of emergency putting all democratic processes on hold. They speak of Ali Gotrani, for Sputnik
Ali Katrani, as head of the PC, which he is not:Ali Katrani, head of the Presidential Council at the Government of National Accord, told Sputnik that the state of emergency imposed by the military heralds the beginning of a transition period that will allow Libya to restore its territorial integrity. The military, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, will take charge of the country during this time; once the country is united once again, the government will then focus its attention on reaching a political consensus within the nation.
Katrani claims that the LNA owes its support due to its successes in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). However the LNA fought against IS mostly in Benghazi and is fighting other Islamist groups there as well.
It is also besieging the Derna Shura Council of Jihadists who were instrumental in driving the IS out of Derna. The main stronghold of the IS in Sirte was not fought at all by the LNA but by Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous mostly brigades from the city of Misrata, many of whom are opposed to Haftar.
Katrani said that the army does not permanently seek power but once the army had stabilized the country would return to democracy with parliamentary and presidential elections and a new constitution developed. After describing what is in effect a coup, Katrani claims the time for coups is over. In closing he notes that if the people wished to see Haftar as their leader, and he agrees, then he could participate in presidential elections. Egypt’s President el-Sisi could have his friend Haftar as president of Libya.
The Jamahiriya news agency picks up on the Russian report and republishes it. It remains to be seen if any more mainstream publications get taken in by this totally misleading report that fails to take into account that it is only a proposal by a member of the PC critical of the GNA. It is a proposal that would be roundly rejected by the GNA. The only way it will be implemented is if Haftar by force defeats the militia supporting the GNA.