Wednesday, October 14, 2015

English text of final draft of Libya Political Agreement released

Bernardino Leon, the UN special envoy to Libya, had hoped that negotiators for the two rival Libyan governments would sign the final draft of the Libyan Political Agreement(LPA) at a special UN meeting on Libya on Friday. The agreement remains unsigned.
A recent DJ article comments on the meeting. After a year of trying to work out a peace deal Bernardino will be replaced by a seasoned German diplomat in a few weeks. However, with the encouragement of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya(UNSML) and of much of the international community Leon still hopes to have a Government of National Accord in place by October 20, when the mandate of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives Government(HoR) runs out. Neither it nor the parliament of the rival General National Congress(GNC) based in Tripoli have approved the LPA as yet. In fact the HoR rejected the LPA because it contained amendments to address concerns of the GNC. This was downplayed by the UN and Leon managed to persuade the HoR to send representatives to New York as did the rival GNC government. However, the gala signing ceremony that the UN hoped for was not to be.
The UNSML in its latest press release stressed that the Government of National Accord(GNA) needed to be formed without delay and at the latest prior to October 21, when the HoR mandate expires. The HoR has already resolved to extend its mandate if necessary, and considers that the dialogue to form the GNA may still be ongoing then. The assembled group of dozens of nations affirmed their strong opposition to any military or unilateral solution to the conflict. The UNSML press release did not include the text of the latest draft of the LPA.
So far the only place to access the full English text of the LPA is in a Libya Herald release. The text has its problems but at least the Herald, a pro-HoR publication, has made it available whereas the UN cannot be bothered it would seem. A tweet notes:UN peace plan for Libya - English language version- has numerous grammatical mistakes and dates that have now passed.The Herald claims that additions to the text appear in yellow and deletions in green. Actually in their text the additions are in blue and the deletions are in red. At least, I assume that is correct since the red items also have the text with a line through it! The expired dates are quite significant since unless they are altered, significant changes will not be made. As the Herald points out, many of the changes involved the composition and the powers of the State Council, which is given expanded powers in the new draft. As well the membership is now composed entirely of members of the GNC. The amended agreement has an Article 67 that says: This Agreement shall enter into force immediately after it is signed by parties to the Libyan Political Dialogue, and endorsed and adopted by the House of Representatives and General National Congress, provided that this does not exceed the date 1 October 2015.Since this date has passed, there is nothing in the agreement that requires that the GNC parliament even approve the draft.
The role of commander of the armed forces is carried out by senior members of the Government of National Accord. Article 8 says in part:The Presidency Council of the Council of Ministers, in its capacity as the Supreme Commander of the Libyan Army, must within twenty (20) days of the signing of this Agreement, decide on the incumbents of senior leadership military and security positions.This section removes Haftar from being commander in chief of the Libya National Army. While Khalifa Haftar claims his authority as commander in chief of the HoR armed forces comes from his appointment by the HoR, Article 14 of the LPA cancels any laws or appointments that contradict the agreement. No doubt these passages represent one of the reasons that Haftar rejects the LPA.
The interim security arrangements in Aritcle 67 include ceasefire arrangements. Haftar has continually said that he will never agree to a ceasefire with the forces of the GNC government whom he consider terrorists. Even if there is a political agreement, as Leon himself has noted several times, it cannot be enforced without a parallel military agreement. Such an agreement is nowhere in sight and Leon has even given up any reporting on a parallel military dialogue. No doubt this is because there is no such dialogue.
Haftar is continuing with his military solution of trying to defeat not just the Islamic State but all the forces opposed to him including the GNC forces He began his Operation Dignity in May of 2014, designed he claims to rid Libya of Islamists. It is supported by the HoR government. Although threatened with sanctions, Haftar now has the support of Egypt, the UAE, and the Arab League, all of whom were at the recent UN meeting in New York pledging their support for the LPA. A spokesperson for Operation Dignity, Mohammad al-Hijaz, announced that Arab states are now preparing for a major military operation to shift the power balance in Libya: "Violent storms will soon strike Libya to hit locations of IS, armed militias and Takfiri groups.These violent storms would be carried out by the neighbouring countries, especially the Arab ones, and it would be similar to the Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen."
This does not sound much like a ceasefire. We will see how serious the international community is about punishing those who act against the peace process. Just recently Haftar negotiated a military agreement with Jordan. So far he appears not to have been sanctioned by the EU or anyone else. He has already stopped his own prime minister from leaving the country for a meeting and for a holiday. I have seen no reports of any world leaders loudly criticizing him for these actions.


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