Tripoli - Back on July 2, UN Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon convened a meeting of delegates to peace talks in Skhirat Morocco despite the absence of negotiators from the Tripoli-based General National Congress(GNC) government.
The meeting convened by Leon consisting of delegates from the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) based in Tobruk and independents issued a statement supporting the fifth draft of a UN-sponsored plan for a Government of National Accord.The delegates from the GNC had told the UN they would not attend the Thursday meeting as they needed an extended time to discuss the new draft. The GNC had been generally in favour of the fourth draft, whereas the Tobruk government rejected it. No doubt, under international pressure and after passing numerous amendments that took away any powers granted to the GNC in the fourth draft, the Tobruk government had returned to the meetings. The Tripoli government also passed some amendments before returning to the meetings. When the new amended fourth draft was shown to the parties, the GNC found that a number of changes had been made all of which reduced the powers of the GNC and increased the powers of the Tobruk government. The changes had been made without any consultation with the GNC or their approval. Amendments presented by the GNC had been ignored. Libya Analysis points out that the new draft favoured the HoR:The GNC group left the talks just a few hours after receiving the new fifth draft on June 28. They insisted that they would not return for the meeting on Thursday as they needed more time to consult with the GNC as mentioned earlier.The GNC subsequently rejected the draft and demanded that amendments suggested by the GNC be discussed before they would return to talks. The Misrata Municipality also called for amendments so as to not favour one party but strike a balance. An ambassador at the Thursday meeting said that if the GNC delegation did not show up within three days, the others would initial the agreement anyway. Reports such as this suggest that the UN plan was to go ahead with an agreement and formation of a Government of National Accord even without the agreement of the GNC. There are several versions of this position. I discuss the issue at length in a recent article.Leon apparently wanted the draft initialled by last Sunday. All sorts of pressures were put on the GNC delegates and even the GNC by the ambassador from Britain and from France as described in a recent article. The Libya Herald notes of the process:The last news release at the UNSMIL website specifically about the dialogue is back on July 1st. There is no news release on the July 2 meetings at which Leon had those present agree to the terms of the fifth draft. There is a link to the text of the fifth draft here. There is no category of documents listed for UNSMIL There is a statement on the July 2 meetings but only on the Home page. Surely one would look for such statements under news releases or speeches or statements rather than on the home page. To find more up to date news one must look elsewhere.The Times of Malta quotes the Tobruk prime minister Abdullah al-Thinni as saying that the peace talks could drag on until December. Just a few days earlier he had been optimistic that a deal would be signed in a few days. Perhaps the UN has decided that it must at least go through some further motions to try and reach a deal. However, if the UN should modify the draft so as to give even minimal power to the GNC it will no doubt find that new draft rejected by the Tobruk government but all the signs are that the UN wants to avoid that at all costs. Every time the Tobruk has walked away instead of threatening sanctions the UN has given in to Tobruk demands as far as it can. A report from the Libya Herald dated July 9 says:There is no news of the promised security track negotiations between military representatives of Tripoli and Tobruk. There is no news either of whether the UN will hold further negotiations to discuss the GNC amendments. The powers behind UNSMIL believe silence is golden and public ignorance of what is going on blessed.
After Bernardino Leon presented parties involved in the UNSMIL-backed negotiations process with a fifth draft peace agreement document at the start of last week, the negotiations process has entered yet another dead phase. In fact, last Tuesday the GNC negotiating team was quick to withdraw from the Moroccan city of Skhirat to return to Tripoli and discuss within the broader rump insitution amendments proposed by the HoR and picked up by Bernardino Leon in the latest iteration of the proposed peace agreement.
The process does not, however, require the Draft to be endorsed by the GNC. Nor does it require that all the delegates sign the Draft, which would happen after the Government of National Accord is chosen. Once such a government is approved by the HoR, the international community will then be able to provide Libya with arms and support to fight IS and other terrorists in the country – which for many foreign government is now the priority.This process gives complete power to one party — the HoR — and a so-called peace agreement becomes in fact an agreement that Haftar and the Tobruk armed forces now backed by the international community will back Haftar's Operation Dignity, a military solution to the problem rather than a political solution as the UN has constantly said is the only alternative. A political solution must involve both rival governments not just one. This process would be completely irresponsible and a recipe for civil war.
All the delegates to the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue, other than those from the General National Congress, are now reported back in Skhirat in Morocco to reconvene talks on the latest Draft. However, delegates and foreign ambassadors taking part have dismissed speculation that it would be initialled this evening or tomorrowThis report may be of the earlier meeting over a week ago. If there had been a reconvening of the delegates other news media would surely have reported this especially when there were all sorts of foreign ambassadors there as was the case in the earlier meeting.