Friday, February 3, 2017

Libya Political Dialogue claims to have amended the Libyan Political Agreement

(January 26) According to a report from the Libya Observer, the Libyan Political Dialogue committee agreed to six proposals amending the Libya Political Agreement (LPA) that had been agreed to by an earlier Dialogue group at Skhirat Morocco back on December 17, 2015.

The Skhirat agreement has already been twice rejected by House of Representatives (HoR) which by the LPA is required to vote confidence in the UN-brokered Government of National Accord( GNA) set out in the LPA. The HoR government and the head of its armed forces the Libyan National Army (LNA), Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, refuse to recognize the GNA and its Presidency Council (PC).
The Dialogue members are at the invitation of the UN envoy to Libya Martin Kobler. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya UNSMIL arranges accommodations and air transportation, Kobler usually calls for a Dialogue meeting when he wants to push through something not strictly in the LPA. He called the group together when he wanted the GNA to move from Tunis to Tripoli even though strictly speaking the GNA did not yet exist as an operating government, since it had not received a vote of confidence by the HoR. It still has not had such a vote and there is yet no sign of it being held although it was supposed to be ready to be held within ten days after the August 22 rejection last year.
The present meeting was twice postponed but even when it last met it was reported that representatives from the HoR were not present. The HoR was to send a new delegation. According to the Libya Observer, the HoR did not send any representatives to the meeting today at which the amendments were made.
The High Council of State (HCS) a part of the GNA composed of former members of the General National Congress and a mostly advisory body is claimed to have rejected any discussions of the reshuffling of the government members by the dialogue members. The group claims that it will only agree to discuss the issue with HoR representatives. An HCS delegate to the meeting was reported to have said: “The only legal mechanism to discuss amending the political agreement the bodies working under its authority is via an agreement between the HoR and the HCS as included in the Skhirat-signed agreement.”
Apparently, the Dialogue group agreed to include only three members in the Presidential Council rather than the present nine. Each member would be from a different part of the three main areas of Libya. In its final statement the Dialogue members said: “The Head of the Government of National Accord will be picked from outside the Presidential Council and he will be responsible for the executive authority along with the ministers.” A new council has been added that will be appointed as the Chief Commander of the Libyan Army:“The council will consist of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Head of the High Council of State, and a member from the three members of the Presidential Council,” Decisions would be made by consensus. It seems highly unlikely that Khalifa Haftar, will agree to any such Council. He wants to remain head of the armed forces of any new government. The membership of the HCS would also be expanded. The Constitution Drafting Assembly was required to finish its work within a period of one month from the day the amendments get signed. However, the amendments are not yet signed.
The dialogue committee said that the HoR should approve the Government of National Accord before the signing takes place to ensure that the amendments will be included and dealt with seriously. Whatever makes the committee think that the HoR will vote confidence before the amendments were signed even if they accepted the amendments? What makes the committee think that the HoR will accept amendments that they had not been involved in creating? It is possible that perhaps the HoR did send a delegation at the last minute but the Libya Observer report suggests this was not the case. One would expect that if the HoR had been there, the amendment about a new council being commander of the Libyan Army would have been rejected. According to the Observer, the Presidential Council spokesperson has said that the Dialogue Committed is not entitled to amend the LPA. Perhaps that is in effect recognized by the group as they suggested that the HoR should first vote confidence in the GNA before the amendments were signed. This just appears to be another scheme dreamed up with the help of Martin Kobler, Special Representative to the Secretary General (SRSG), to try and have the HoR vote confidence in the GNA. It seems it is being attacked already by the existing GNA and is quite unlikely to be accepted by the HoR or Haftar.
An earlier report by the Libya Herald, said that the dialogue team, meeting in the Tunisian resort town of Hammamet had been unable to make any decisions because of divisions in the HoR. The members could not agree on the number of members to be nominated by the HoR to the committee. Some HoR members insisted that any changes had to first be agreed to by a committee of five HoR members and five from the High State Council of the GNA as is set forth in the LPA. They argued that the Dialogue meeting in Tunis should be ignored since they could not amend the LPA. The meeting had to be suspended until Tuesday after a row. The Herald account concludes:It is due to reconvene tomorrow, Tuesday, but there is no guarantee that HoR members will agree on a new dialogue committee, let along that some of the committee (if not all of them) will go to Hammamet and join the Libya Dialogue.The Herald claims that without the HoR new representatives turning up nothing can be done. It seems that something was done but it seems highly unlikely that HoR representatives were involved.
The Libya Express also covered the Dialogue committee meeting. The account follows closely that given by the Libya Observer but does not say that there were no HoR representatives present. Neither does it mention any criticism by the Presidency Council nor the High State Council but has a separate article on the HSC criticism.


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