The Islamists’ efforts to hold the handover of power in Tripoli, rather than in the east, were a complete failure and, predictably, led to the session being boycotted by the Misratans and the Islamists, who insisted that it was unconstitutional. Even their attempts to hold a parallel meeting in the capital proved disastrous and their number was so small that no-one turned up.
Meanwhile, members of the outgoing GNC made an appeal to the Supreme Constitutional Court to rule on whether the sessions in Tobruk are legal because they should have been held in Benghazi. However, no decision will be forthcoming any time soon because the court is on holiday until September.
Despite the fuss they are making, however, the Islamists have been completely outmanoeuvred by their liberal rivals. On top of the fact that such a large number of MPs attended, the first session of the new ruling body was given international recognition through the attendance of representatives of Arab and other foreign governments, as well as from the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Africa Union (AU). Further legitimacy was afforded to the house when representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and the US - who held a meeting in Washington this week on the margins of the US-Africa Summit - gave their backing to the House of Representatives.
It, therefore, seems that Libya and the rest of the world is accepting the new house as a fait accompli despite the Islamists and Abu Sahmaine’s objections. This has left the Islamists in an extremely weak position and means that their winning the battle on the ground is more important than ever. As such, Libya might well end up having a political arena dominated by the liberals while the ground itself is in the hands of the Islamists.
For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.
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