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article imageOp-Ed: Libyan dialogue talks resume amid conflicting reports

By Ken Hanly     Sep 10, 2015 in Politics
Skhirat - A new and supposedly final round of talks designed to forge an agreement between the two rival Libyan governments have started today in Skhirat Morocco, led by the Special UN Envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon.
In a press release, Leon said he hoped the parties will understand the deadline he set for the 20th of September for finalizing the agreement for the Government of National Reconciliation must be the last one. He then goes on not to talk about the progress of the dialogue but of recent attacks in Libya by the Islamic State or Daesh, as the UN Support Mission in Libya(UNSMIL) now likes to call them. These attacks, he claims, make the agreement all the more urgent. Leon hopes the deal will come into force a month later just before the mandate of the HoR runs out. US ambassador to Libya, Deborah Jones, said most Libyans wanted the UN process to be successful, as it would restore security, rule of law, and a regulatory regime where businesses could operate. She said Leon's LPA was a sound foundation for achieving this end. An intelligence report takes a different view: "While UN special envoy Bernardino León bustles between Geneva and Skhirat in an attempt to save 'his' peace talks, the Libyan factions are already preparing for their failure."
Leon said the annexes to the Libyan Political Agreement(LPA) would be discussed until tomorrow evening and then names for the prime minister and his two deputies would also be considered. The Tobruk-based internationally-recognized government presents names for the prime minister and one deputy while the GNC present names for the other deputy. Leon said: The United Nations would like this process to be completely transparent and completely clear to everyone. So, I am going to repeat again the way the United Nations is proposing to work. We will have, as I have reiterated on many occasions, as a working method the system that is used in the European Union, to select the top personalities, the top jobs in the European Union and will do it, giving the HoR and the GNC the priority in this discussion and then opening the discussion gradually to all the participants in this national dialogue. Unfortunately, Leon does not describe what that EU system is.
Leon does not report on the progress of the parallel dialogue with military leaders. Neither does he report on any further consideration of the amendments to the LPA demanded by the Tripoli-based GNC government. At the end of the last meeting he said about half of the nine amendments suggested by the GNC were able to be incorporated in the final draft. However, in answering a question it was noted that the HoR delegates had refused to even talk about these amendments. The GNC has not initialed the LPA as have the HoR government and others. It demands these amendments be included in any final draft. There are now reports that the HoR is also setting out conditions for continuing the dialogue some of which contradict GNC demands and possibly even the present draft of the LPA.
According to the pro-GNC Libya Observer, speaker of the HoR, Aqilah Saleh wanted Leon to give written guarantees that Saleh claims are necessary for the Libya dialogue to be successful. He wanted these conditions met before the coming round of talks. Among his demands are that the unity government be given a vote of confidence only by the HoR parliament. This demand conflicts with the amendment requested by the GNC that the final signing of the political draft agreement occur after voting and endorsement by the GNC. This is surely reasonable that any unity government, or Government of National Accord be endorsed by both rival governments not just one as demanded by the HoR.
Aqilah insists that the draft LPA initialed by all but the GNC in Skhirat be final and non-negotiable. Yet counter to the draft itself, which would give the role of commander in chief to senior officials of the government, Aqilah demands: "All the decisions and legislations of the parliament, and all the adopted political and sovereign positions are final and non-negotiable." Among the HoR acts was the appointment of Khalifa Haftar as head of the Libyan armed forces. Other parties will never agree to this. A GNC amendment demands: Second, the Chief Commander of the Army (the Prime Ministry as per the draft) should reappoint new military and security leaderships simultaneously with the forming of the national unity government. The GNC also demanded that those involved in plotting a military coup should be dismissed. This would include General Haftar. Aquila also hinted in his letter that if his terms and conditions were not met that the HoR would extend its mandate when it ends in October. Haftar has suggested a military tribunal should rule Libya after the HoR mandate runs out.
The two sides appear to be still very far apart. Leon has achieved nothing as far as obtaining any agreement between the armed forces of the Libyan government and those of the HoR commanded by Khalifa Haftar. Neither group accepts the LPA, and Haftar calls the Libya Dawn militia of the Tripoli government terrorists and vows never to negotiate with them or agree to a ceasefire. Haftar will need to be sidelined before any agreement can be successful. Haftar along with his air force commander were named along with three persons associated the Tripoli government to be subject to sanctions by the EU. Yet Haftar just recently was allowed to negotiate a military agreement with Jordan.
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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