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article imageOp-Ed: Libyan dialogue continues but HoR government extends mandate

By Ken Hanly     Oct 6, 2015 in Politics
Skhirat - Negotiators from the two rival Libyan governments are meeting in Skhirat, Morocco in an attempt to agree on the names of those to lead the new Government of National Accord(GNA).
The special envoy of the UN to Libya, Bernardino Leon, had arranged for a meeting of participants last Friday at the UN in New York in the hopes that an agreement could be reached and signed. It did not happen in spite of the urging of dozens of countries. However, the peace process appears to be continuing now with the meeting in Skhirat. The new deadline for formation of the Government of National Accord is October 20, when the mandate of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) expires. The rival government based in Tripoli, the General National Congress, has maintained that it is the legitimate government after the Libyan Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that elections for the HoR were unconstitutional and the HoR should be dissolved. References to the HoR in the pro-GNC Libya Observer, regularly refer to the HoR as the "dissolved parliament." Don't expect ever to see such a reference in the mainstream press.
The HoR regularly ignores demands by the UN. The UN warned against setting up a separate bank and oil company. The HoR did precisely that. The HoR was not punished, the International Montetary Fund(IMF) actually recognized the appointee of the HoR as the new head of the bank.
The UN demands that military operations cease. The HoR has supported Operation Dignity, which has continued military operations against forces allied with the GNC. Operation Dignity was launched by the commander of the HoR armed forces, Khalifa Haftar, in May of 2014 to rid Libya of all Islamists including the armed militia that support the GNC government. Recently an Operation Dignity spokesperson announced preparations for a new military offensive in Libya. The offensive is to be carried out in cooperation with a number of Arab States, as is the Saudi-led operation in Yemen. Egypt, the Arab League, and the UAE all support Haftar. Recently, although he was supposed to be sanctioned, he signed a military deal with Jordan. The Arab League and all the other countries mentioned were at the New York UN meeting pledging their support for the LPA and a political solution and affirming there was no military solution to the Libya conflict. With Leon and the international community insisting that the GNA be in place to take over from the HoR by October 20th, the HoR has unilaterally extended its term beyond that date.
There are conflicting details about the resolution passed by the HoR. The 2011 Constitutional Declaration set the deadline for the mandate of the HoR. The HoR media office said there was no time limit set for the extension. However, an HoR official spokesperson, Faraj Buhashim, said the motion extends the term for up to six months. The HoR presidency office said that over 126 members voted in favour of the motion. Another member told the Liberal Herald, a pro-HoR paper, that all 131 members who attended the session had voted in favor.This vote would still be short of the two-thirds majority of the HoR required, according to some analysts.
Bernardino Leon and many members of the international community insist any amendment to the Constitutional Declaration be carried out as part of the LPA, which would allow the HoR to extend its period of operation for up to two years but as part of the GNA. A new constitution is being drafted and after it is approved new elections will be held. Neither the HoR or the GNC governments have approved the most recent LPA draft for the GNA as was the UN plan. Yet the process goes on with the attempt to name senior officials of the GNA. HoR president Ageela Saleh Gwaider said in New York that the dialogue could go beyond the 20th of October. By that time the new Operation Dignity with a cast of international Arab actors might be well under way. Haftar hopes to have a military council run Libya perhaps after the mandate of the HoR expires. The HoR moves makes it even less likely that the HoR will give in to UN and international pressure to sign off on the LPA any time soon.
The GNC may very well reject the move as illegitimate, a position that would appear to be correct. However, if the international community continues to recognize the HoR as the government of Libya after that time it will make little difference any more than did the Libya Supreme Court ruling that the HoR election was unconstitutional and the HoR dissolved. The U.S. and the EU may make bleating noises about how wrong the decision was, but then Russia and many Arab states will continue to arm and support Haftar so in time reality will sink in and Haftar may become the equivalent of Egypt's El-Sisi in Libya. That is probably the way that Haftar and many of his supporters see the situation.
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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