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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

UN envoy to Libya Leon claims new peace agreement cannot be amended


Tripoli - A few days ago a group of participants in a Libyan peace dialogue initialed the fifth draft of an agreement to form a Government of National Accord.
Negotiators representing the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) were present but the other rival government of the General National Congress(GNC) in Tripoli did not attend. The dialogue was intended to facilitate an agreement between the two rival governments for a unity government.that both would support. Yet the UN promoted signing of an agreement that only one party had agreed to.The GNC insists that it will not participate in further dialogue processes until the amendments they presented are seriously discussed. In an article back on July 2, I discussed some of the shameful actions of Leon and suggested that the UN appeared to be arranging the situation as if they did not want the GNC to sign. Whether deliberate or not that is what happened and should not come as a surprise to anyone who observed the antics of Leon after production of the fourth draft agreement. He amended it in a manner that took power from the GNC and gave even more to the Tobruk government. Now he claims that there can be no further amendments to the agreement, ensuring that Tripoli representatives have no reason to return to the dialogue except to cave in and initial the document.
Even though, as mentioned, the UN-sponsored dialogue was supposedly designed to produce a political solution to the conflict between the competing rival governments, in the end, only one of the two party's initialed the agreement. Nevertheless, the agreement is widely praised with even the UN Security Council supporting it. All this shows is that the big powers like it, not that it makes any sense or will work. Along with earlier cheerleaders for the draft now Turkey has given its support and China. Less surprising is Egypt's praise for the deal since it has long supported the commander of the Libyan armed forces Khalifa Haftar and the Tobruk government.
The agreement talks about cease fires and disarming militias and withdrawal of armed forces from cities. Long ago Leon noted that there was a parallel dialogue he was arranging with the military forces of each group. All he has reported on so far is a meeting with commanders in Misrata associated with the Tripoli government. In his report he does not mention that he met with the group without consulting the Tripoli government or the senior command of its forces. He said he was meeting with representatives of Tobruk forces in Cairo. He did not mention any names and he has not given any further report even though weeks have passed since.
Libya Dawn the main militia associated with the Tripoli government have not accepted the UN document. Khalifa Haftar has said many times that he will neither agree to a ceasefire with Libya Dawn nor will he negotiate with them. There is not much hope of a parallel dialogue given these facts but Leon does not even speak about what is going on nor has he reported anything for weeks since he met with Misrata commanders. There is a problem for Haftar in that the agreement for the Government of National Accord gives the function of Commander in Chief of the Libyan Armed forces to the new government:2. Terms of Reference of the Presidency Council of the Council of Ministers:
a. Assume the functions of the Supreme Commander of the Libyan army
However Haftar recently at a meeting of commanders speaking about the UNSMIL draft agreement suggests his status and legitimacy comes from his appointment by the HoR: He began by saying that the armed forces should be above the political process. They drew their legitimacy, he said, from the elected parliament. However, when he turned to the need to ensure national security, he added that politicians should be prevented from interfering in army affairs.All the previous legislation of the HoR will be valid and this would include the appointment of Haftar unless the legislation conflicts with the agreement which this seems to do. However, it is unlikely the House of Representatives would agree that Haftar's appointment is not valid. If they do agree to that Haftar might just see to it that the Tobruk parliament is burned down just as happened in Tripoli when he disagreed with the Tripoli parliament in May 2014. Ironically, the present Prime Minister of the Tobruk government Abdullah al-Thinni, who appointed Haftar, was prime minister at the time of the burning. There was a warrant out for the arrest of Haftar at the time. It was never carried out.

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