On 15 February, in Tripoli Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj dismissed the current Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Minister of Interior (MoI) al-Aref al-Khoja from his post and replaced him with his deputy minister Brigadier Abdussalam Ashour. Ashour is expected to play a major role in activating the MoI’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the General Investigations Agency (GENIN) to implement the arrest warrants issued against fuel smugglers by the General Attorney last week. He is also expected to consolidate and coordinate all local crime-fighting police work with local security directorates. Ashour, originally from Zawiyya is a veteran CID chief.
In the last few weeks CID and GENIN branches have been activated throughout the western region including in Zuwara, Sabratha, Zawiyya and Sirte. Many of these structures and their security officers are closely affiliated with the Libyan National Army (LNA) or loyal networks, including Salafist brigades such as al-Wadi in Sabratha and the Jamal al-Ghaib brigade in Zawiyya.
The GNA also promoted Sabratha’s Anti ISIS Operation Room (AIOR) Commander Omar Abdul Jalil to Brigadier General, a signal of possible closer ties between the AIOR and GNA. In Sabratha, the AIOR gave the green light to a local reconciliation initiative for former rival militia fighters to be allowed to return to the city and integrate back into the community as long as they are disarmed.
In Sirte, there are reports of the GNA actively reorganising security architecture in the city with the Sirte Protection Force, a GNA-affiliated, Misratan-led group, beginning the process of handing over security to the local security directorate in the city and allowing the reintegration of police officers (many supporting the LNA) to a reunified local security directorate.
On 14 February, the Supreme Court in Tripoli ruled in favour of the Constitution Drafting Assembly’s (CDA) draft constitution by quashing an earlier decision issued by an administrative court in Bayda, where the CDA is headquartered, which had ruled that the CDA’s vote to approve the draft in August 2017 was invalid. The Tripoli court ruled that administrative courts do not have the jurisdiction to rule on matters relating to the CDA, therefore the approval of the draft constitution remains valid. In theory, the next stage of the constitution drafting process is for the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruq to issue a referendum law and a national referendum on the constitution to be held. However, on 20 February a group of 18 HoR members representing eastern Libya said that the Supreme Court’s ruling was invalid, that they no longer recognized the authority of the CDA, and that they refused to issue a referendum on the constitution at this stage.