Tuesday, January 19, 2016

UN press release fails to explain why GNA deadline was missed

The UN now has a press release on the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) website that discusses the missed deadline for formation of the Government of National Accord. The deadline was Saturday at midnight.

The first paragraph of the UN release says:
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) takes notes of the Presidency Council’s statement of 16 January informing of its decision to postpone announcement of the Government of National Accord (GNA) by 48 hours beyond the deadline stated in the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). While the Mission regrets the delay in announcing the GNA, it urges the Presidency Council to adhere to the new target date it has set itself. In this regard, UNSMIL emphasises the need for all concerned parties to ensure that the timelines outlined in the LPA are respected.The press statement does not see any consequences from the terms of the LPA being broken. Perhaps the signers of the LPA could feel differently. The UN stresses the need of all parties to see that the timelines in the LPA are respected. Given that there are no punishments for violating the deadlines why should the parties pay the least attention to admonitions not backed up by any punishments? The UN is no doubt telling the HoR that it must provide a vote of confidence in the GNA within the ten-day time frame. They will do so I expect only if their demands are met and this probably includes keeping Khalifa Haftar as commander in chief of the Libyan National Army.
Haftar just met at his military headquarters with 13 mayors who support the GNA. They issued a statement which said:The civic leaders, all from the east of the country, travelled to Hafter’s Marj headquarters. Afterwards they put out a statement warning that there was an uncrossable red line which must separate the armed forces from politics.This appears to be a roundabout way of saying that the political changes involved in the GNA must in no way impact or change the present structure of the armed forces with Haftar as commander-in-chief. This fits in with the claim by an HoR member that the GNA announcement was delayed because members from the east of Libya had threatened to suspend their membership in the GNA unless they were given assurances that Haftar would remain as commander-in-chief. The same member also claimed it was Kobler himself who pleaded for the extension of 48 so he could address those members' concerns. The Libya Observer also notes the eastern region officials are demanding Haftar be kept on as commander of the Libyan National Army(LNA) or there will be no Government of National Accord. However, if Haftar remains as commander in chief there likely will be no GNA either since the GNC members will never accept this. Also, for Haftar to remain as commander in chief of the LNA would violate the terms of the LPA since those terms say that the Presidency Council has the role of commander in chief of the LNA. Apparently Kobler does not wish to talk about these problems in public. Why there was no GNA at the deadline is not an issue worth discussing.
There is nothing in the UN's entire press release about this key issue nor any denial of the charge that Kobler himself had asked for the delay, but his statements imply that he regrets the decision and suggests that he had nothing to do with it. It was only the Presidency Council that decided this. The press release gives no explanation at all of why there needed to be a delay in the first place. What readers are supposed to be concerned about is the increased threat of attacks by the Islamic State or Daesh — the UN politically correct name — and the need for all Libyans to unite behind the GNA and fight terrorism. He actually mentions not only the Islamic State but Al Qaeda and Ansar al-Sharia as well. This last will please Haftar and no doubt the US, since Ansar al-Sharia are held responsible for the attack on the US consul in Benghazi that killed the US ambassador and several other Americans. Kobler constantly politicizes IS attacks in Libya, using them as a means to push for supporting the GNA.
The UN does not inform us in the news release that Kobler would meet with Ageela Salah, president of the HoR, and also separately with HoR members who have boycotted sessions. Obviously he is rounding up support to ensure that there will be a vote of confidence in the GNA within 10 days. In spite of claiming that a majority of the HoR members support the LPA and GNA, after four meetings there has never been a quorum. Salah made a point that explains why Kobler is suddenly trying to coax those who have boycotted the HoR to participate in the voting:Salah noted that to amend the Constitutional Declaration in order to integrate the LPA along with the Presidency Council and the new government into Libyan law would require a vote in favour by two thirds of the HoR. This, he reportedly pointed out would require the participation of the boycotting members.We could see some dramatic developments during the next few days in Libya. The HoR vote of confidence in the GNA must happen by January 26th. Of course, that is only if the LPA rules are followed. Meanwhile Kobler has to find some way of keeping Haftar as commander in chief of the LNA while not violating the terms of the LPA which take his position away at least temporarily. At the same time, he has to convince GNC members that Haftar will not stay on as commander in chief or that if he does there is nothing to worry about.

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