Sunday, August 2, 2015

UN special envoy discusses peace agreement with representatives of Tripoli government

Special envoy to Libya of the UN, Bernardino Leon, is meeting with representatives of the General National Congress(GNC) parliament. The GNC government is based in Tripoli. The talks are in Algiers, Algeria.
The GNC parliament is a rival to the House of Representatives(HoR), the internationally-recognized government located in the eastern city of Tobruk. Representatives of the HoR initialled a draft agreement back on July 11 along with some others but the GNC negotiators did not participate and demanded amendments be made. The draft agreement that they had been asked to sign had been altered so as to remove any real power from the GNC, in contrast to the original fourth draft to which they reacted positively. On the other hand, the HoR had demanded amendments to the draft before they would return to the dialogue. Amendments were made without consultation with the GNC or their consent. When the GNC members read the changed documents they walked away from the dialogue. Leon has claimed that since the draft was initialled by the other parties, it must form the basis for the planned Government of National Accord and cannot be amended even though one main party did not agree to it.
The UNSMIL site issued a short press release on the meeting:The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Bernardino Leon, will hold consultations later on Thursday, 30 July 2015 and Friday 31 July 2015 in Algiers with representatives of the General National Congress to discuss ways to reinforce and move forward the dialogue process.The GNC delegation was headed by Nuri Abusahmein and would discuss "the latest developments concerning the political dialogue brokered by the UN." While Leon says that the document cannot be amended, there are many issues that remain to be settled. The prime minister and the two deputies have yet to be named or other members of the Government of National Accord. Leon could offer some incentives by promising them certain positions although it might be difficult for Leon to deliver on any promises.
The issue of the role of General Khalifa Haftar, as head of the Libyan Armed Forces, will be of key importance. Under the agreement the role of commander in chief of the Libyan Armed Forces is reserved for a group of officials from the new government but Haftar insists that his legitimacy comes fromm his appointment by the House of Representatives. While there is a provision in the agreement that previous HoR legislation that conflicts with the new agreement can be ruled invalid, it is unlikely that the HoR would agree to this. Leon no doubt will claim that Haftar will not be the new commander of the Libyan Armed Forces but until that becomes a reality any such promise will be empty.
Even if Leon does offer some carrots for the GNC to sign on to the agreement, it is likely that the GNC will insist on broader changes that restore some power of the GNC to control legislation from the HoR as was present in the unamended fourth draft. Meanwhile Haftar rejects the draft, and dismisses the move of the EU to sanction himself and his air force chief. Leon has said nothing about the parallel military dialogue that he admits is necessary for any political solution. Neither Libya Dawn nor Haftar accept the recent agreement. Haftar says he will not negotiate with nor agree to a ceasefire with Libya Dawn. Given that Haftar has rejected the same agreement that HoR representatives initialed, one would think he and the air force chief would be fired immediately. No sign of that.