Friday, April 1, 2016

UNSMIL report by Martin Kobler on Ministerial Meeting of Libya's Neighboring Countries

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) website recently released the statement of Special Representative of the Secretary General, Martin Kobler, at the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of Libya's Neighboring Countries.

Echoing euphemistically the constant attempt to promote the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA), the meeting was titled "A united neighborhood in support of a united Libya". Kobler remarks: "I am pleased to see that Libya is represented today by His Excellency the President of the Presidency Council Mr. Fayez Serraj. " Notice that Kobler no longer calls him president-designate. There has been no formal vote of confidence in the HoR as required by the LPA. The UN has simply accepted a statement by an alleged majority of the HoR that they support the GNA as good enough. There has been no vote in the HoR to amend the Constitutional Declaration of 2011 to incorporate the GNA either. If the rules of the LPA had been followed the GNA term would not yet have begun and officials would still be designate. Some news sources still call Serraj PM-designate.
Kobler duly notes all the neighbors who are cheerleaders for the GNA. This includes Egypt, a strong supporter of commander-in-chief of the HoR Libyan National Army (LNA), General Khalifa Haftar, who opposes the GNA. He also is delighted to see the presence of the Secretary-General of the Arab League. The Arab League also supports Haftar.
Kobler talks of the recent milestones in establishing the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). Astonishingly he says:The Libyan Political Agreement was signed in December, and approved by the House of Representatives in January. The Presidency Council has established a Temporary Security Committee and formed a cabinet, which received express approval from a commanding majority of members of the House of Representatives.
The Skhirat agreement of December 15 was signed only by members of the Dialogue specifically chosen because they supported the LPA and GNA. Neither parliament approved the LPA nor were any of those from either parliament who signed representing those parliaments or authorized to sign.
The claim that the HoR approved the LPA in January is strictly speaking a falsehood. What it did was accept the LPA in principle but in effect rejecting it and the GNA as well. They demanded that Section 8 of the LPA that gives the function of commander-in-chief of the LNA to the presidency council immediately upon the vote of confidence in the HoR be deleted. It cannot be. It can be forgotten however and that is what has happened. The HoR also at the same time rejected the Cabinet of the GNA and demanded it be reduced. His claim that the Cabinet of the GNA " received express approval from a commanding majority of members of the House of Representatives" is, to put it mildly, debatable. The facts are that an alleged majority of the HoR signed a statement saying they approved of the GNA. There was no vote. Some of those whose signatures appeared on the statement claim they did not sign. The LPA requires a vote of confidence as well as a constitutional amendment. None of this is explained by Kobler.
Kobler claims in the east a minority has succeeded in blocking a vote in the HoR on the cabinet proposal. How is it that the majority is not able to provide security to vote? Why is it that not enough of the majority who approve the GNA have showed up at the last four meetings of the HoR to have a quorum, so there could be no vote? Why does Kobler not condemn them or even threaten to sanction them for not showing up? What will happen when the HoR becomes the working legislature of the GNA? It is not yet of course. The HoR contends that there has been no vote of confidence in the GNA and so the HoR is still in power. Kobler notes that in the west of Libya as well the GNC has refused to transfer power to the GNA and even threatened member of the presidency council with arrest if they come to Tripoli.
As usual, Kobler manages a few flourishes of rhetorical emotively positive moralizing:The overwhelming majority of the Libyan people are in favour of the Libyan Political Agreement. The overwhelming majority support the formation of the Government of National Accord. The overwhelming majority want and deserve peace – now.The last sentence is probably true enough. The other statements are not verified by any polling. True or not, It does not change the fact that neither parliament has approved the LPA or GNA.
Kobler proposes that the UN will proceed along four lines. First, Kobler says:Together with the Libyans, the region and the wider international community, we will continue to support the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement. This is the plan and there are no alternatives.
In spite of all its own violations of the LPA there is no change in strategy or direction. There are no alternatives. What he means is that the UN will continue on using every means at its disposal to establish the GNA, in spite of the fact that it has not the support of either rival government. Continuing in this path is bound to result in further violence. While he says that the GNA must be allowed to take up its duties in Tripoli as soon as possible, he does not say how he can do this when the GNC is confronting him and not even letting him land in Mitiga airport in Tripoli. No mention of sanctions. The EU is threatening to sanction officials from both the HoR and the GNC without any effect except perhaps to harden positions.
Secondly, Kobler says it is essential to unify and reform Libyan security forces. He wants the GNA immediately "to establish a mechanism to achieve this goal." No mention of Khalifa Haftar who rejects the GNA as it is. No mention of the fact that the security arrangements for the GNA to come to Tripoli are with Tripoli and other militia who many critics say are part of the problem, rather than the Libyan National Army.
Thirdly, Kobler wants to broaden support for the LPA. However, the process involves no dialogue but merely persuading groups to sign on using various carrots and sticks. There is no alternative or any change up for discussion. He calls for civil society, youth and women's organizations, tribal dignitaries and municipalities to be brought on board. However, the only way to participate is to "climb on board." There is no alternative. However, most everyone is going to be "reconciled":I intend to work with the relevant authorities responsible for national reconciliation in the new Government of National Accord to arrange for regional fora of tribal leaders and mayors to accompany the process of nation-building.
There is no alternative Libya, the UN is bound and determined to help you build the nation The nation is the GNA which can then ask for foreign military intervention against the Islamic State and to help prevent migrants moving from Libya to Italy.
Finally, Kobler wants the Constitutional Drafting Assembly to present the Draft Constitution on time for a referendum. He notes that he just returned from Oman where the Assembly is meeting. No mention that there are about a dozen members boycotting the assembly, or that the head of the committee was recently disqualified for being an American, or that the assembly may not have a sufficient number of members to legally pass resolutions. He finds nothing strange in an assembly working on a Libyan constitution meeting in Oman rather than Libya.
Kobler concludes by saying that he continues to count on the ministers support as the GNA prepares to establish itself in Tripoli and get on with the task of governing. It is not clear that the GNA can even become a presence in Triipoli let alone governing from there. How can it govern when its own legislature the HoR does not recognize it or give up power?

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