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article imageOp-Ed: Libya Political Dialogue members convened by UN in Malta

By Ken Hanly     Nov 10, 2016 in Politics
Valetta - Today members of the Libyan Political Dialogue begin a two-day meeting whose aim is to end the political impasse in Libya and agree to the steps needed to advance the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA)
The Libya Political Dialogue was a group of Libyan stakeholders assembled by former UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon. Working with the dialogue members he produced several drafts of the Liberal Political Agreement. No draft was ever agreed to by both the Salavation government parliament, the General National Congress or the rival House of Representatives (HoR) government based in Tobruk. When Martin Kobler took over as UN envoy he tried to pass the final draft through both parliaments but failed.
Kobler got around this problem by convening members of the Dialogue who supported the LPA in the Moroccan resort town of Skhirat in December of 2015. Those members signed what is known as the Skhiirat Agreement or Libyan Political Agreement. Although there were members of both parliaments present none of them had authority from their parliaments to sign. Presumably the members of the Political Dialogue referred to in the notice of meeting are some or all of those members who signed the Skhirat agreement.
The LPA requires that the HoR vote confidence in the LPA before the GNA term began. However, the GNA was actually rejected although a hundred members signed a letter supporting the GNA albeit with reservations. This led to an earlier meeting of the Political Dialogue members. In March this year they met in Tunis to discuss the GNA decision to activate itself and move to Tripoli from Tunis. Although there was some dissension the meeting was interpreted as supporting the GNA decision and the GNA moved to the naval base at Tripoli.
However, the GNA still needed the HoR to vote confidence in it before the HoR could become the legislature of the GNA under the terms of the LPA. This has never happened. In fact the HoR voted on August 22 to reject the GNA. The GNA was supposed to present a new smaller cabinet of eight members within ten days but more than two months later there is as yet no sign of a list of such members. It is not even clear that the HoR will even receive such a list and vote on it. Nothing is scheduled and no deadline has been set. The HoR wants not just a new list of cabinet members but also the deletion of a section of the LPA which makes the Presidency Council of the GNA the commander of GNA forces. The HoR and Field Marshal Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army Forces associated with the HoR, want Haftar to remain in his position. This is one of what the UNSMIL statement calls a key obstacle to the implementation of the Political Agreement. Kobler insists that only with a unified government, "the people of Libya will live with security, and basic services can be restored".
There was a second meeting of Dialogue members in July in Tunis at which the group expressed disappointment in the work of the GNA and warned that if its performance did not improve they might vote a lack of confidence in it.
Other bodies are also meeting on the Libya crisis and there is a new initiative by the African Union. A spokesperson for Khalifa Haftar, Colonel Ahmed Mesmary, said that an alternative to the Skhirat agreement was being worked out by tribal leaders in the city of Ajdabiya.
The dialogue members may be asked to amend the LPA. Kobler has constantly insisted that the LPA cannot be amended until it is passed by the HoR as it is. Perhaps, he has now changed his mind. Without amendment of the LPA, it appears quite unlikely that the HoR will vote confidence in the GNA.
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 Malta, Libya political agreement, Martin Kobler
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