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article imageOp-Ed: Libyan Dialogue meetings in Tunis last three days already

By Ken Hanly     Jul 18, 2016 in Politics
Tunis - The meetings of the Libya Dialogue at the luxury Golden Tulip Hotel in Tunis over the weekend have been extended at least another day because the complexity of the items on the agenda required more time for discussion, according to organizers.
The meeting is being co-ordinated by the United Nations Support MIssion (UNSMIL). So far there has been no report on the meetings on the UNSMIL website. Faiez Serraj, PM of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and head of the Presidency Council said: "The discussions have been frank, transparent and open. We have discussed all the challenges facing the GNA and we have agreed on future coordination and meetings to find solutions to tackle all these issues." No details were given of future plans.
On Saturday, the Dialogue group was presented with a new Libyan Constitution with 221 articles. I just wonder if this is the same draft that was ruled to be illegal by a Bayda court. There are a number of members of the Constitutional Drafting Assembly (CDA) who are boycotting the meetings. Several meetings were held in Oman. However, there were some members who refused to attend because they thought the meetings should have been held in Libya. When the CDA members returned they changed the quorum requirements so the votes taken in Oman would be valid. The draft had been roundly criticized by some in the judiciary and at least one tribe in the south refused to participate. The CDA was also criticized back in May for not following the terms of the Libya Political Agreement by not having the HoR and the State Council comment on the draft before a referendum is taken. It is not clear if these issues were ever addressed by the group. The new constitution translated into English has been made available online.
According to one report, there were frequent complaints that the obstacle in the way of further progress was the president of the HoR, Ageela Salah, who is already sanctioned by the EU for allegedly delaying a vote of confidence in the GNA by the HoR. There have been numerous meetings and all but two have lacked a quorum. The two that did have a quorum were disrupted with no vote. I find it hard to see how Salah can be held responsible for there being no quorum. It is not clear either why the UN and the GNA cannot arrange for adequate security at meetings in Tobruk. No doubt any obstructive actions that Salah has taken are with the approval of, if not the instructions of, Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA) associated with the HoR.
Serraj and six other members of the Presidential Council came out of the meeting to give a positive report: however, no real detail of what new plans there are were given. There is no mention of when the HoR might vote confidence in the GNA.
There is to be further discussion of unifying the armed forces but it appears that the idea of regionalization with military councils for west, east and south as Martin Kobler, envoy for the UN to Libya, suggested recently, has been dropped. Kobler stressed there should be one army under the command of the Presidential Council as set out in the LPA. This will not sit well with General Haftar and his loyal supporters who want him to remain commander in chief of the armed forces in any new unity government.
Serraj said on the second day of the meetings that there is no alternative to the LPA. However, it is not clear how the GNA and the UN intend to achieve the necessary vote in the HoR that would unify the two rival governments and make the HoR the legislature of the GNA. There were also many discussions of creating a unified military command, however without the participation of Khalifa Haftar the basic disunity between Haftar and forces loyal to the GNA will remain. Perhaps once the meetings are over there will be a press conference that will provide more detail of what is being planned to ensure that the provisions of the LPA are met and that the UN-brokered GNA is strengthened.
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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