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article imageOp-Ed: Larger role urged for municipalities at Libya meeting

By Ken Hanly     Oct 2, 2016 in Politics
Tripoli - More than 60 mayors, from the west and south of Libya met in Tripoli on Sunday to discuss the existing law concerning local governance. The group demanded more power to provide services to local residents.
The group also discussed the role that municipalities could play in national reconciliation and in rebuiding the police and army. The theme slogan of the conference was "Libya gathers us". The MP of the UN-brokered government Faiez Serraj attended as did Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Martin Kobler. First Deputy President of the High Council of State Saleh Makhzoum also was present.
As a tweet explains the meeting was under the auspices of a ministry of the Government of National Accord (GNA): First Meeting of Libyan Municipalities held in Tripoli under auspices of GNA Local Government Ministry. There were no representatives from the east where Haftar, with the agreement of the House of Representatives government, has been replacing elected officials including mayors in Benghazi, Al Jufra and Ajdabiya by military personnel. The mayor of Tobruk asked to be replaced.
There were concerns expressed about the dismissals raised at the conference. Significantly there were no representatives from the east at the conference. The mayors appear to be only from areas loyal to the GNA. Kobler said that the dismissals would be discussed at the conference in Paris to be held on Monday, with participants from Egypt, Qatar, UAE, and Turkey. The conference is designed to see how the cause of acheiving the necessary unity in Libya can be advanced. Some of the issues were discussed in a recent Digital Journal article. PM Serraj said at a press conference after the meeting of the municipalities: “We will not allow jumping on municipalities under any security or political reason, the mayors are directly elected by the people." It has taken Kobler and Ferraj some time before commenting on Haftar's mover to militarize local governments in eastern Libya. It is not clear what the UN or the GNA to do to stop Haftar or reverse the process
Kobler spoke about the meeting in a series of tweets. One said: The first meeting of municipalities of Libya was held in Tripoli on Sunday to push for a greater role in local governance. A second said: Applaud this initiative by GNA's minister of local governance to gather around 80 municipalities frm across Libya. Notice that Kobler inflates the number of municipalities present from other reports. A third tweet notices the lack of representation from the east: I'm flattered to learn that some of you crossed 100s of kms to be here. I also wished to see among you reps frm East Presumably, municipalities from the east were asked to attend but would not because it might cause difficulties with Haftar and the HoR government.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Libya municipalities, Martin Kobler, Khalifa Haftar
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