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article imageOp-Ed: No vote in HoR on Libyan Political Agreement

By Ken Hanly     Oct 13, 2015 in Politics
Tobruk - The internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) government based in Tobruk met on Monday October 12 to discuss the UN-brokered Libya Political Agreement and the six names of senior officials.
Bernardino Leon, the UN special envoy to Libya, had presented the draft and names to the HoR along with the Tripoli-based, General National Congress(GNC) a few days ago. The HoR meeting was supposed to decide whether to accept the draft and names according to HoR president Ageela Gwaider. However, the meeting started late because of lack of a quorum. The meeting lasted into the evening with much criticism of the names and the draft but no decision was made. The meeting was expected to reconvene today. The GNC had earlier rejected the draft but were convinced by Leon to send negotiators to a meeting at the UN in New York and a later meeting in Skhirat Morocco, at which names for senior officials were considered.
The Libya Herald, a pro-HoR news source, said Leon is further changing the text to make the powers of the Prime Minister stronger. Leon has several times emphasized that a draft text could not be amended or altered only to subsequently change it. An earlier text that was initialled by the HoR negotiators and some others but not the GNC representatives was subsequently changed by Leon to meet some concerns of the GNC. It was this amended text that the HoR had earlier rejected. Both governments may object to any further changes. Leon already added one member to the presidential council representing the south of Libya. The GNC had been told by Leon that no changes could be made when they demanded further amendments to the draft.
Leon issued a news release clarifying changes he made to the draft. He said that there was agreement to add a sixth member to the council. He also noted that the name he suggested as president of the State Council was just that, a suggestion. He said that the president would be chosen by the council as outlined in the draft. The person he suggested was a prominent member of the GNC and critic of the LPA. He flatly turned down Leon and also noted that it was up to the council not Leon to name its president through an election at a council meeting.
The GNC has yet to meet to consider either the names or the draft agreement. Leon has emphasized that he wants an agreement soon so that the new Government of National Accord can be settled before the mandate of the HoR expires on October 20. The HoR has already unilaterally extended its mandate beyond that date in case no agreement is reached by then. The Herald claims a source close to the GNC told them that a majority were now in favour of both the names and the draft but that the president of the GNC, Nuri Sahmain, opposed the draft and avoided calling a session because he did not want the draft to pass. This report should be taken with a grain of salt, although it might be true. The Herald likes to play up conflicts within the GNC. There no doubt are such conflicts, as there are within the HoR as well, but the GNC may be waiting for the HoR to reject the draft and then be blamed for the failure of the peace process. Within the next few days what is likely to happen may become much clearer. However, given that the commander of the HoR armed forces Khalifa Haftar, rejects the LPA and is pursuing a military strategy designed to defeat the GNC, it seems unlikely that the HoR will accept the present draft, especially since it had been rejected earlier. It might be a better strategy for Sahmain if he let the GNC approve the draft and accept the names making it even more problematic for the HoR to reject the LPA, assuming the Herald is correct.
The Herald also reported that several political parties associated with the GNC accepted the draft and Leon's names even though there were some objections. The Justice and Construction Party associated with the Muslim Brotherhood was among those accepting the draft and names. The UN already held a meeting in Tunis of Libyan academics, business leaders, and experts to discuss ways of solving LIbya's economic problems and recovery under a future unity government. Given that there is no agreement on a GNA yet, this meeting may be rather premature.
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
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