The speaker of Libya’s eastern-based parliament has announced that the chamber will hold a special session on March 8 to discuss holding a vote of confidence on a new unity government.
Aguila Saleh, speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk, said in a statement late on Friday the meeting in the central city of Sirte will take place if a joint military commission is able to guarantee the safety of participants.
The commission consists of five senior military officers from the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and five from its rival, the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) of eastern-based renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.
The North African country, a major oil producer, has been mired in conflict since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The sometimes chaotic war has drawn in several outside powers and a flood of foreign arms and mercenaries.
Since 2015, Libya has been divided between the GNA and the HoR in Tobruk, allied to Haftar.
The two sides agreed to a permanent ceasefire in October after Haftar’s failed bid to wrest control of the capital from the GNA.
“Parliament will convene to discuss a vote of confidence on the government on Monday, March 8, at 11am in Sirte if the 5+5 Joint Military Commission guarantees the security of the meeting,” Saleh said.
“If that provides impossible, the session will be held in the temporary seat of parliament in Tobruk at the same date and time,” he added.
It was unclear whether the vote itself would take place on March 8 or whether the meeting would be limited to talks.
But General Ahmad Abu Shahma, the head of the GNA’s military committee and member of the joint military commission, said in a statement on Saturday that the Tripoli-based administration’s forces would not be able to secure Sirte for the event.
“Sirte is still under the control of foreign forces and mercenaries. There is no presence of any legitimate forces to secure the city,” Abu Shahma said.
“It is up to the members of parliament to select the convenient place in coordination with the relevant security authorities.”
Meanwhile, interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah said earlier this week he had submitted to Saleh a “vision” for a cabinet lineup that would help steer Libya to elections in December, and that the names of proposed ministers would be disclosed in parliament during the confidence vote.
Parliament has 21 days to vote on the lineup, according to a UN road map.
Dbeibah was selected early this month in a UN-sponsored inter-Libyan dialogue, the latest internationally backed bid to salvage the country from a decade of conflict and fragmented political fiefdoms.
Saleh said on Friday Dbeibah should choose “competent people with integrity, from across the country, in order to achieve [national] consensus” for his government.
“Everyone should be represented so that [Libya] can emerge from the tunnel,” Saleh said.
If approved, a new cabinet would replace the Tripoli-based GNA, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, and the parallel administration in the east.
The prime minister will then face the giant task of unifying Libya’s proliferating institutions and leading the transition up to the December 24 polls.