Saturday, December 26, 2015

Libya Herald provides useful time-line of formation of Libyan Government of National Accord

Sam Zaptia, journalist and co-founder of the Libya Herald, has provided a useful outline and diagrams sketching the projected process of setting up the new Government of National(GNA) and then the approval of a new constitution and subsequent elections.

The Libya Herald published the outline based on UN documents. Unfortunately, the documents are out of date. They must have been prepared while Bernardino Leon was UN Special Envoy to Leon since there are specific dates in late October mentioned in which certain events were to take place, but nothing happened at that time! Nevertheless, Zaptia's outline still gives a good overall picture of what the UN plans. The diagrams are small within the article but if you click on them, they appear separately and in large enough format to read easily.
The Libya Political Agreement(LPA) was signed on December 17 in Skhirat, Morocco, by some members of the Libyan Political Dialogue sponsored by the UN, including members from the two rival parliaments, the internationally-recognized House of Representative (HoR) based in the east in Tobruk, and the General National Congress (GNC) based in the west in Tripoli. The Dialogue was designed to have negotiators from the two rival governments along with other stakeholders agree to a unity government and a solution to the political crisis. It was intended that the two rival parliaments would approve the LPA. However, during the period that Leon was UN Special Envoy this did not happen. Subsequently when Martin Kobler took over as head of the dialogue he too failed to get approval of the LPA by the two parliaments. The agreement signed at Skhirat was not approved by either parliament. The UN decided to change the rules and gather together members of the dialogue who supported the UN-drafted LPA. None of the members of either the HoR or the GNC who signed the LPA had any authorization to do so. The presidents of both parliaments rejected the LPA and began a separate Libya-Libya dialogue without the UN. The text of the latest LPA signed at Skhirat has yet to appear on the United Nations Support Mission in LIbya(UNSMIL) website. The only text I can find of the LPA is from July 2. The press should be demanding release of the signed text of the LPA. Zaptia does not mention this issue.
The LPA calls for an immediate ceasefire. There still appears to be fighting by the HoR's commander in chief Khalifa Haftar but no doubt he would claim this is part of the war against terrorism which is excluded from ceasefires I assume. However, Haftar considers all his opponents terrorists including the armed forces of the rival GNC government. Haftar will just carry on as usual. Zaptia notes what is an exceedingly important point about the LPA: It requires that the HoR endorses the GNA and its political programme born out of the LPA.The Constitutional Drafting Authority(CDA) is also to present a draft of a new constitution to the GNA for approval and terms of a public referendum on the constitution. Assuming the referendum passes, a timeline would then be set out to hold general elections to form a new legitimized legislature and government.
Zaptia speaks of the GNA having a one-year term from December 17. This appears to be in error according to the text of the LPA of July which says:The term of the Government of National Accord shall be one year as of the date of granting it a vote of confidence by the House of Representatives.
The HoR has a definite timeline for approval of the LPA:Article (3)
The Prime Minister, within a period that does not exceed one month of the adoption of this
Agreement, shall submit a full agreed list of the members of the Government of National
Accord and its programme to the House of Representatives to fully endorse it, grant it a vote
of confidence and adopt its program in accordance with the legally stated procedures within a
period that does not exceed ten (10) days of its submission to the House of Representatives.
One wonders what happens if the HoR insists on a longer period for discussion or fails to give a vote of confidence in the GNA.
According to Zaptia the GNA has 30 days, or until January 16, to agree to and implement security arrangements for it to operate in the capital. Discussions of this issue are already taking place with at least one Tripoli militia group agreeing to stay neutral but support the GNA: The Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigade (TRB), representing Tripoli’s militias have announced that they will not support either of the conflicting political Libyan parties but will support one government of national unity.
This group is not connected with Libya Dawn, the main militia group associated with the GNC. We should have reports soon on the progress of the security arrangements. Unless there is agreement with the main militia groups associated with the GNC it will be hazardous to meet in Tripoli. The GNA may decide to meet elsewhere as is allowed under the LPA.
Another key section of the LPA concerns the powers of the senior officials of the GNA: All the competencies of senior military, civilian and security positions are transferred to the Presidency Council. Libya Herald understands this to mean that Presidency Council has complete and total authority and sovereignty to appoint or dismiss the Central Bank f Libya Governor or the Libyan Investment Authority chairman or the Attorney General or the Chief of Staff of the Libyan National Army etc.
The text of the LPA on July 2 is actually rather explicit saying of the Presidential Council's functions: a. Assume the functions of the Supreme Commander of the Libyan army
b. Appointment and removal of the Head of the General Intelligence Service upon
the approval of the House of Representatives.
c. Appointment of ambassadors and representatives of Libya in international
organizations based on a proposal from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, according
to Libyan legislations in force.
d. Appointment and removal of senior officials.
In other words, in the case of the Supreme Commander of the Libyan Army, the Presidential Council assumes the function of the commander as well as having the power to appoint or dismiss the commander. The present commander is CIA-linked Khalifa Haftar who has up to now rejected the LPA, a ceasefire with the GNC forces, and negotiations with the GNC or its armed forces. As soon as the GNA is given a vote of confidence and comes into being, Haftar is relieved of his position. Haftar no doubt rejects entirely being relieved of his duties when the GNA comes into force. The HoR majority who signed a statement supporting the LPA in principle, also demanded he be allowed to stay on. Zaptia does not discuss this key problem. The meeting of the HoR to vote confidence in the GNA will be high drama when it happens. So far no announcement has been made as to when this meeting may happen. It is possible that there could be no quorum if there are too many opponents of the deal who boycott the meeting. There are other aspects of the timeline and political roadmap that Zaptia discusses but this article is already long. The entire article is worth reading to gain a good idea of the political process to come.


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