Friday, December 2, 2016

Libyan Government Presidency Council member claims the UN envoy says that the group is powerless


(November 18) According to, Ali Gotrani, a member of the Presidency Council of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), the UN envoy to Libya, Martin Kobler said that the Libyan Political Agreement ended in deadlock and the Presidency Council is powerless.
The Presidential Council consisting of nine members has a number of functions as described in the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in Skhirat Morocco in 2015. Under the LPA the PC is the commander of the armed forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA). The PC heads the GNA and has representatives on it from different regions. Gotrani is from the east.
Gotrani supports Marshall Khalifa Haftar who is commander of the Libyan National Army(LNA) the armed forces associated with the rival House of Representatives(HoR) government. Haftar does not recognize the GNA. The HoR has twice refused to vote confidence in the GNA, the last time on August 22nd. While Kobler insists that the LPA is the way forward, the PC has yet to present a new cabinet to the HoR for a vote of confidence and there appears to be no time limit on when the vote of confidence will take place. With the way events are unfolding it is even questionable if there will be a meeting. However, if there is not, it is not clear how the LPA can be the only way forward as Kobler continues to insist.
Gotrani's testimony should be taken with a grain of salt since he is probably interested in destroying the GNA and changing the LPA so that the PC does not remain the head of the armed forces but Haftar. However, Gotrani said on the Libya TV Channel that Kobler suggested selecting 15 national figures to pick a president and 2 deputies for the Presidency Council (PC). This would reduce the PC to three as it was in an earlier draft. Gotrani also said: "He also proposed that we could cancel article 8 of the agreement and give the functions of the Supreme Commander of the Libyan Army to the House of Representatives. We must return to the fourth draft of the agreement and keep the powers of the Supreme Commander to the House of Representatives, we took promises from Kobler about this issue." This draft was strongly condemned by the General National Congress many of whose members are now part of the GNA, either as members of the PC or the High State Council. Gotrani even accused the dialogue committee associated with signing the LPA of being associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group strongly opposed by Haftar and one of the targets of his Operation Dignity.
If Gotrani is telling the truth, Kobler has changed his tune entirely from what he has been saying since January of this year that the LPA signed last December is final and there can be no new amendments until the LPA is accepted as is by the HoR. Kobler has said that Haftar needs to be part of any unified government but he has so far been completely unable to come up with any solution that Haftar would accept. Indeed, so far, Haftar has been unwilling even to bother to talk to Kobler. In an earlier interview, PM Faiez Serraj complained of his lack of power and outlined the myriad problems he was facing. More and more articles criticize the LPA, the GNA, and the present UN policy as described in this article. With the election of Donald Trump there appears to be a renewed consideration for Haftar. Kobler talks of the sacrifices that the LNA has made in Benghazi in fighting terrorism. Haftar's success in Benghazi is described as a great victory. A Reuters article speaks positively of the role of the army in making life normal. The Economist reports:After five years of upheaval, most Libyans want the fighting to stop. The ICG and others have called for new talks, this time involving people, such as Mr Haftar, who can actually influence events on the ground. The West, though, is being stubborn. “The UN and international community continue to insist [the Skhirat agreement] is the only option, when everyone realises this is not going to work,” says Mohamed Eljarh of the Atlantic Council, a think-tank. “There is a lack of creativity in terms of solutions.”It seems clear that something is brewing in Libya with the likely result of outright civil war
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