Sunday, July 16, 2017

Libyan UN-brokered government's head outlines a road map to peace

                                           Troops loyal to GNA

Fayez al-Serraj, head of the Presidential Council of the UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA)  noted that he and his government had tried to bridge the gap between it and the rival House of Representatives (HoR) government, and had always tried to achieve reconciliation but without success. Serraj said that representatives of the HoR and the GNA's High Council of State had been unable to live up to their privileges regarding their sovereign positions. One might equally claim that the GNA was not able to do so either in that it was unable to present a government to the HoR that could gain the confidence of the HoR as is required by the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). It lost the vote twice, the last time on August 22, 2016.

There have been earlier so-called road maps to peace one near the end of May suggested by Martin Kobler and an earlier one in the middle of February. Neither was a success. Serraj claimed that there was security in the capital Tripoli. While there may be peace temporarily it is not clear that the various militia are under control of the GNA and there are militia threatening the city from outside. The eastern commander Haftar also has said several times he intends to liberate the  city.

Serraj urged uniting military institutions and placing them under civilian authority. He also suggested declaring an amnesty. No doubt at least some military groups and militia in western Libya would be unwilling to accept a united army if that army were commanded by Haftar.

Serraj also urged that there be presidential and parliamentary elections in March of 2018. Serraj said on TV: "Ceasefire in all cities across Libya except places where fighting terror is ongoing, forming a High Council of National Reconciliation with 100 members and forming dialogue committees under the sponsorship of the UN to discuss elections law and constitution amendment." Serraj also suggested that committees should be formed with the HoR to join divided institutions. Yet, Ageela Saleh, the speaker of the HoR rejected Serraj's road map. Saleh also said that there would be no elections until a constitution was ready.

It is not clear that Serraj developed his road map in consultation with the other 8 members of the PC or if he talked it over with members of the High State Council or any members of the House of Representatives.

The Libya Herald also reported on Serraj's speech mentioning aspects left out by the Observer.  Serraj advocated a national program to gather up weapons, and to demobilize militias. It is not clear how this could be done. There is no central force that Serraj controls at present that could do this. The security problem and building up a national army with disarming of militia is something that simply has not transpired. Serraj also said there should be a crackdown on corruption, smuggling and human trafficking.

Serraj noted that there had to be respect for all the different cultural components of Libya including the Amazigh, Tebu, and Tuareg communities.The proposed National Reconciliation Council would have branches in all towns and areas, and would prepare a national conference to end the current divisions and enmities. The HoR, backed by Field Marshal Haftar,  might not agree to any such process and could keep areas under its control from sending representatives. Alternatively, they could simply vet any representatives to be sent to assure they would support the HoR and Haftar.

Serraj would bypass the efforts of the Constitutional Drafting Assembly and he presents a series of proposals that would see the head of the state directly elected, who would then nominate a new government. He also proposed that meanwhile the HoR and State Council set up a joint committee that would agree on amendments to the Constitutional Declaration that would set out the powers of the head of state. The HoR and State Council already has members taking part in a dialogue to come up with amendments to the Libya Political Agreement.

Serraj managed not to mention Khalifa Haftar in his entire speech, nor of others who do not accept the GNA such as Khalifa Ghwell's followers loyal to the former Salvation Government and who recently clashed with forces loyal to the GNA east of  Tripoli. It is doubtful that Serraj has the power to follow through with much of what he outlines in his road map. Opposition to his road map may be sufficient to prevent most of what he proposes from becoming reality.

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