Sunday, November 29, 2015

Meeting of HoR in Libya suspended after fight with no vote on Libya Political Agreement

- Both the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) in Tobruk and the rival General National Congress(GNC) have yet to vote on the latest draft of the UN-sponsored Libyan Political Agreement(LPA).
There were no announcements by the UN or major media outlets as to when either of the two rival governments would meet to discuss and vote on the LPA even though the new Special Envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler, has been urging the two sides to sign the agreement since he took office over a week ago. Countries such as France have also been urging signing of the agreement to create a unified government to fight the Islamic State and no doubt to agree to foreign military intervention in exchange for aid and recognition. It is now clear Kobler exerted sufficient pressure on the two governments that they are again forced to go through a process neither government wants, and in the case of the HoR, could possibly cause a military coup. However, so far I have found only one outlet, the usually pro-HoR Libya Herald, that has described what happened in the House of Representative yesterday.
The Herald claims the HoR met yesterday to discuss the LPA and the associated Government of National Accord(GNA), but the session was suspended. The Herald claims the pro-HoR Libyan news agency LANA reported the suspension followed upon a heated discussion about the plan that ended up with a fight in the parliament. You would think at least a few news outlets might find a fight in the HoR parliament worth reporting, if not the substance and background of the debate. The president of the HoR, Ageela Gwaider, has conveniently been away for the last while so no meeting could be held. Perhaps Kobler managed somehow to persuade Gwaider that he could delay no longer. The results are worse divisions, no vote and no word yet when the suspended meeting will convene.
The GNC was scheduled to meet on the LPA and GNA today but there appear to be no reports yet on that meeting. A spokesperson for the GNC called the present LPA document defective. The GNC earlier asked for amendments but then-envoy Leon said that was impossible before amending the document himself. Kobler also insists there can be no changes to the text of the LPA or even of those already named to the GNA, names to which both sides have objected.
Before the HoR meeting yesterday, 92 HoR members signed a statement backing the GNA, according to the Herald's description. They accused the HoR president, Gwaider, of violating the HoR rules through preventing them from meeting. The Herald continues: . However, they also effectively said that there could be no changes in the leadership of the Libyan National Army (LNA) (in other words General Khalifa Hafter) and that the names announced by former UN special envoy Bernardino Leon for the proposed presidency council needed modifications.In other words, the group do not support the GNA as described in the UN-sponsored agreement presented to them. The LPA designates senior members of the GNA government to fill the role of commander in chief that Haftar now fills. This group is in effect rejecting the LPA because they know that Haftar will never accept being turfed from his position.
The group did agree to what is called the Fezzan initiative, which accepts the final LPA draft rather than the earlier July 11 draft that gave virtually no power to the GNC and which they had soundly rejected. Some members still insist the earlier July draft should be voted on. The most recent draft does give some limited power to the GNC through a Council composed of GNC members. However the Fezzan initiative is not in accord with the Kobler and Leon draft either. It rejects the names Kobler and Leon suggest for prime minister, deputy prime ministers, and senior ministers, who make up the senior executive power of the GNA. The Fezzzan initiative also says the Libyan National Army is fighting against terrorism and so cannot be subject to negotiations in relation to any political agreement. Perhaps this should be called the Khalifa Haftar amendment, or at least the red line for the HoR accepting any LPA. To the other side and others as well, for Haftar to continue on will never be accepted. To call passage of the modified LPA as approving the accord is ludicrous. Yet the HoR members cannot even agree on this weakened version of an LPA. The suspension of the meeting has angered many members, the same sort of reaction occurred when no vote took place when Leon had demanded a vote on the LPA. In this case, history repeats itself in a very short time span. One member said the suspension was sabotage by HoR president Salah Gwaider.
Leon had named three deputy ministers but also increased the number to five, with one from the south and another from the east. He also added another minister to the top presidency council. Kobler apparently has asked both the HoR and the GNC to appoint names they want appointed to the extra posts.
Not surprisingly there are moves to hold a dialogue between rival Libyan groups without the UN. There is an article in the Libya Observer by an HoR official criticizing Kobler and the UN. The most recent press release from the UN praises the recent ceasefire negotiated with the help of Qatar between the southern Tebu and Tuareg tribes, but ends up urging again that the two rival governments sign on to the most recent draft of the LPA. At most what they can expect is approval of some crucially modified version of the LPA certain to be rejected by the GNC. Even that may not be possible.