Sources | Female Leader from Belhaj’s Al-Watan Party Pitching for Foreign Ministry’s Portfolio for the East – Al Marsad

Sources from the House of Representatives (HoR) and members of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) had revealed to AlMarsad that there was controversy on the defense and foreign ministry portfolios in the new interim government of Abdul Hamid Dbaiba, which he is scheduled to propose this month to the HoR. AlMarsad had revealed the Lamia Abu Sidra was being considered for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and this confirmed on Friday when Dbaiba presented his cabinet list for confidence to the House of Representatives (HoR).

(Libya, 2 March 2021) – Sources from the HoR and the LPDF had revealed to AlMarsad that the new Prime Minister-designate, Abdul Hamid Dbaiba, as head of the new interim government, may keep the post of Minister of Defence for himself as a step to end the current controversy and competition over the position by various Libyan political factions.

Some, however, consider this move as suspicious, because this portfolio has financial importance given the size of military and security contracts and the budgets which are allocated for this ministry.

LAMIA ABU SIDRA AND BELHAJ’S AL-WATAN PARTY

As for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs positions which are to be allocated to the East according to the quota system between regions, AlMarsad had learnt last week that Lamia Abu Sidra, a female member of Al-Watan Party led by Abdelhakim Belhaj, has been nominated for such a position. This was confirmed yesterday when Dbaiba presented his list of ministers and head of sovereign portfolios to the House of Representatives.

Al-Watan Party was founded by Abdelhakim Belhaj, who is also the leader of the terrorist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), who also has links to Iran, and to the Palestinian terrorist group HAMAS with whom he was involved in arms smuggling.

According to our sources, Dbaiba provisionally accepted the nomination pending further consultation.

Lamia Abu Sidra is a graduate of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering at the University of Benghazi and has been unconnected to the city for several years. She served as Undersecretary of the Ministry of Information (2013-2014) in the government of Ali Zeidan, in addition to several positions in other governments, including being a member of the Libyan Prisoners Committee (Jihadists) in Iraq. She is described by some members of the HoR as not being independent, and therefore she should not be candidate in a unity government that is the result of a brutal war.

In 2012, Abu Sidra ran for the General National Congress elections for Al-Watan Party (Benghazi Department) accompanied by a number of candidates, including the militant Mohamed Omar Baiyou, whose son died fighting in the ranks of the terrorist Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi in 2014.

Mohamed Baiyou with his son’s body after he was killed fighting in the ranks of the Ansar al-Sharia terrorists in Benghazi. He appeared with him wrapped in Ansar al-Sharia’s flag before his burial (2014).

AL-WATAN PARTY GAINED NO SEATS

In the elections of the General National Congress in 2012, Al-Watan party suffered a disastrous defeat and with zero seats. The Al-Watan Party election list for Benghazi was headed by Lamia Abu Sidra. She stayed in her position in Belhaj’s party adopting its policies and the vision of its leaders in various public forums.

Abu Sidra continued her partisan work for Al-Watan Party led by Belhaj after the formation of the Government of National Accord (GNA) in 2015. With the appointment of Iman Bin Younis as GNA’s Minister of State and Commissioner for Institutional Structuring Affairs, which was described as a “failed and useless” ministry, Lamia Abu Sidra became an adviser for this ministry, and she remains in that post till today.

Lamia Abu Sidra with Iman Bin Younis, Hind Shubar and UN envoy to Libya (2018).

NO DIPLOMATIC EXPERIENCE

As for her Ministry of Foreign Affairs portfolio, it is clear that Abu Sidra has never worked in the diplomatic corps and therefore has little diplomatic experience. Her only international exposure is her continued appearance in international and regional forums as a leading member of Al-Watan Party, as was the case in October 2015 when she attended a British government’s meeting to discuss support for the GNA in London.

In the 2012 elections, Abu Sidra and Al Watan Party were strongly criticised for placing her image leading the party. The fact that she was not wearing a hijab was seen as a propaganda move by the Libyan public. The controversy was not related to issue of the hijab per se, but rather that it was seen as manipulation by Belhaj to attempt to market his party as an open-minded Islamist party and to remove any suspicion against it. There was a fierce media campaign during 2012 linking the party’s president to terrorism given that he was the Emir of the terrorist-designated LIFG.

The announcement of Al-Watan Party’s list in 2012 elections led by Lamia Abu Sidra.

The controversy at the time also extended to the colour of the logo, which was the same as the Qatari flag and had no Libyan connection. The Kalaminkov program, which was broadcast on Radio Zone which was one of the most famous radio stations at the time, also ridiculed the brand colour of the Watan Party.

The same sources told AlMarsad that both Belhaj and Ali al-Sallabi and an “international body” had suggested Abu Sidra’s name to Dbaiba through relatives and people close to him. They claimed that because she hails from the East and is a woman, and represents women, that her appointment would help placate the women LPDF and the HoR who demanded quotas for politically-independent women for the new interim government as agreed at the LPDF.

AlMarsad, however, was not able to confirm Abu Sidra’s nomination from either Dbaiba or his office, due to the secrecy surrounding all nomination names or disclose any of its features, until it is officially submitted to the HoR on 8 March—assuming the date does not change.

Over 24 HoR members signed a petition yesterday calling for the delay in granting confidence, and that it be postponed until after the publication on 15 March of the UN Security Council panel of expert’s report on allegations of bribery and corruption in the LPDF.

© ALMARSAD ENGLISH (2021)

FURTHER LINKS

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Iran supports GNA, Aligns with Turkey on Ways to End Libya Crisis