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article imageOp-Ed: Martin Kobler claims Libyan rival regimes close to a deal

By Ken Hanly     Dec 3, 2015 in Politics
Tripoli - For over a year now the UN has been trying to broker a deal between the two rival Libyan regimes but neither the House of Representatives(HoR) based in Tobruk or the General National Congress based in Tripoli have approved the Libya Political Agreement
The new head of the UN Support MIssion in Libya(UNSMIL) Martin Kobler, took over from the former envoy Bernardino Leon around the middle of November. Leon had presented a final draft of the UN-brokered Libyan Political Agreement(LPA), together with names for senior members of the associated Government of National Accord, to the two parliaments before he left. Neither of the two parliaments held a vote on the draft and both issued statements taking issue with some aspects of the draft. Nevertheless Kobler said: "We are very close to a deal even if some hurdles remain. I believe we can sign in a month. Talks have lasted for a year and it is time now to sign a deal. The government of unity should be based in Tripoli." Kobler has not called for sanctions against those resisting the deal, at least for the moment, but he encouraged Libyans to go for a solution. But this is a solution that has been producing division without any resolution of the conflict for months now.
Instead of starting negotiations anew or at least opening up the draft to changes, Kobler has insisted the text cannot be amended and even the names he suggested must be accepted. He has still not managed to have either the internationally recognized HoR government or the GNC government take a vote and approve the LPA. Even so, the UN and some countries act as if the GNA is a certainty The senior figures named are treated as if they are already in charge. The proposed prime minister, Faiez Serrat, has held meetings with officials in Egypt and Algeria. There have been several international meetings held by the UN planning aid for the non-existent GNA. Leon also meets with them.
One group of municipalities in the south has decided neither the GNC government nor the HoR are legitimate. The HoR mandate ran out on October 22 although the HoR voted to extend it. Legally this can be one only by a referendum. The group of municipalities suggested the the government should be replaced by a higher municipalities council. At one time, Fezzan in the south was an independent area of Libya.
Even those who oppose the present draft still see dialogue as the only solution to the political crisis. Many of those who object, however, see the UN as trying to push a solution acceptable to the international community rather than one developed through interaction between the rival governments. Given that the two governments do not recognize each other, this interaction has been very limited. However, recently some members of the HoR and GNC did manage to sit down and talk. Thirty-two members of the GNC issued a statement after the meeting: “The government proposed by Leon was not the outcome of the Libyan people’s inspiration and demands, because it was not formed by the consent of the Libyan parties related to the crisis, particularly – the GNC and the HoR. The dialogue must go back to what it was intended for, which is a dialogue between the General National Congress and the House of Representatives, besides, the United Nations role in this dialogue mustn’t exceed that of the mediator or the sponsor and not the ruler or the decision maker,
The GNC has recently cut the size of its government and declared itself willing to hand over power to a unity government. However so far there is no proposed unity government that the GNC has approved.
Kobler is not at all transparent about what exactly he is doing at present or how he hopes to get the HoR government to accept the LPA. The HoR met on this issue, had a fight, and then suspended the meeting some time ago. There is no news as to what has happened since. However, without mentioning the fight and suspension and the fact there was no vote the latest news release back on November 27 said: Martin Kobler, welcomes the recent declaration by 92 members of the House of Representatives endorsing in principle the Libyan Political Agreement and the proposed Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord. The statement has two provisions that make it a rejection of the LPA. One is that Khalifa Haftar retain his position as commander of the Libyan National Army and the other that some of the names in the proposed GNA must be changed. The first provision would never be accepted by the GNC. It is strange Kobler could ever praise this basic rejection of the LPA. A recent article stresses that Kobler must move to restore trust in the UN process. So far he has done little to do so and that includes not replying to the GNC that has demanded an explanation of why Bernardino Leon was hired and kept on after clear evidence of a conflict of interest.
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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