Saturday, September 24, 2016

National Reconciliation Conference suffers from divisions

A National Reconciliation Conference was held in the city of Nalut in western Libya near the Tunisian border. The conference was sponsored by the Nalut City Council.

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The conference attracted about one thousand delegates from throughout Libya. According to Wikipedia: "Nalut is the capital of the Nalut District[4] in Libya. Nalut lies approximately halfway between Tripoli and Ghadames, at the western end of the Nafusa Mountains coastal range, in the Tripolitania region." It is a Berber community.
The conference got off to a rocky start on Friday when a number of delegates objected that the national anthem was not played or the Libyan flag displayed. Organizers explained that the opening was held in a mosque where it was thought to be inappropriate to display the national flag and sing the national anthem. The solution was to break up into smaller meetings in the homes of their hosts. According to a tweet: "2/4 Objections by supporters of former regime to start conference w/ National Anthem & display National Flag delayed the start."
The official opening took place on Saturday. Delegates were from such diverse groups as pro-Gadaffi supporters, the Benghazi Shura Council, and federalists from Barqa (Cyrenaica). There were no forums held but there was a five point closing statement issued:1-The communique underscored the assurance of the integrity of the unity of Libya’s territory. 2-It rejected external interference in Libya’s internal affairs. 3-It rejected any meeting regarding Libya being held outside Libya and supported the Libya-Libya dialogue. 4-It supported state institutions in the form of the army, police and judiciary under the legitimacy of the state. 5-It announced comprehensive de-escalation measures and the formation of committees to draw up a roadmap for national reconciliation.
A tweet from the Fezzan Libyan Group said: "Southern tribes have withdrawn from the #Nalut tribal dialogue. One representative said it was just chaos and a waste of time. #Libya"
Another incident marred the gathering. A speech by the Tobruk parliament's envoy Abu Al-Ghazali began by fulsome praise of the Libyan National Army commanded by Haftar. The speech was interrupted a number of times and many participants simply walked out as a protest. An organizer rebuked Al-Ghazali saying: "Did you come here to spoil the conference or speak about the army? We are here to reconcile, we are all against terrorism, you divide us because of a person (Haftar).” A tweet noted: "3/4 Today, speech by #HoR member from #Sirte el-Ghazali angered the rest of delegations, prompting #Mayor of #Nalut to stop him." The conference ended shortly after with the statement quoted earlier.