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Cablegate: Long-Time Qadhafi Confidante Elected Head of General People's Congress

VZCZCXRO9219
OO RUEHBC RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #0075 0271220
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O P 271220Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5736
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 6289

C O N F I D E N T I A L TRIPOLI 000075

SIPDIS

TATE FOR NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: DECL: 1/27/2020 TAGS: PINR PREL PGOV LY

SUBJECT: LONG-TIME QADHAFI CONFIDANTE ELECTED HEAD OF GENERAL PEOPLE'S CONGRESS

CLASSIFIED BY: Yael Lempert, A/DCM, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(SBU) Libya's General People's Congress (parliament-equivalent) met January 26 in Sirte to open its 2010 session. Members of the diplomatic corps, including the Ambassador, were flown by the GOL 400 km east of Tripoli to witness the opening day proceedings. Delegates at the Congress elected Mohammed Bilqassim al-Zway as Secretary-General, replacing Imbarek al-Shamekh as the body's rough equivalent to Speaker of the House. Suliman Shahumi retained his chair of the Foreign Affairs committee (a position he has held since March 2000). Mohammed Jbril was named Secretary of Trade Unions, Hosni Luhichi as Secretary of Legal Affairs, and Salima Abduljabbar as Secretary of Women's Affairs.

2.(C) Bio note and comment: Al-Zway is thought to be a close, personal friend of Muammar al-Qadhafi. He attended school with Qadhafi in Sebha where the Free Officers' Movement was incubated, and reportedly introduced al-Qadhafi to former PM-equivalent Abdulsalam Jalloud (who, with al-Qadhafi, Khweldi al-Humeidi, and Abu Bakr Jabir, comprise the "Gang of Five" revolutionaries that led the 1969 coup). In addition to recent postings as ambassador to Rabat and London, he served as Libya's Permanent Representative to the UN in the mid-1990s and was part of the contact group (including Abdulati al-Obeidi) charged with negotiating with Western powers on Lockerbie and other incidents. There was no Congress agenda item, and no news emanating from the event, regarding Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi's still-to-be-filled role as "General Coordinator of the People's Social Leadership," indicating that Saif's official acceptance and confirmation may still lie in the future. Taken with the reported bankruptcy and subsequent shuttering of Saif's Oea and Qurina newspapers earlier this week, the installation of Zway -- a friend of old-guard revolutionaries -- may be a signal that Saif will have more limited powers in his new, yet-to-be-accepted position than commentators originally thought. End bio note and comment. CRETZ

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