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article imageOp-Ed: No detailed press coverage of Libya Dialogue meetings in Tunis

By Ken Hanly     Sep 7, 2016 in Politics
Tunis - Recently the members of the Libyan Political Dialogue and others held two days of consultative meetings to try to find a way out of the Libyan political crisis.
The UN-brokered and supported Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli has been trying for ages to have the rival Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) join with it to form one unified Libyan government. According to the Libya Political Agreement (LPA) signed in Skhirat in December of 2015 by the members of the Political Dialogue, the HoR must vote confidence in the GNA before its term starts. However, the GNA has nevertheless been operating for some time without the formal vote taking place. Once the vote takes place then the HoR will become the legislature of the GNA.
There was one rejection of the GNA some time ago. Afterwards, there were numerous meetings of the HoR to take a second vote all of which lacked a quorum except for two which were disrupted without a vote. Finally on August 22 there was a meeting in which the vote of confidence was soundly defeated. Since that time the GNA has been tasked with preparing a new cabinet with just eight members rather than the present 17. So far there is no sign of a new list even though there have been several meetings of the Presidential Council (PC). One meeting had only four of the nine members. The submission of the list is already over a week past the deadline for submission but presumably the GNA still intends to submit a new list. There seems very little discussion of what exactly is going on.
The UN website did not even put out a press release announcing the meetings nor was their any press release after the meetings were done just a few positive tweets from Kobler that contrast with other reports that there was no result. There are several photos of the meetings at the site but that is all. Apparently two days of meetings to find a way out of the present crisis in Libya are not worth reporting on. There was no statement issued after the meetings.
The HoR had prepared for the meetings by sending a letter to the UN with a list of 13 new members to represent the HoR at the dialogue. All but two opposed the GNA. There were only four HoR members previously. No one bothered to follow up to find out what happened as a result of this letter. I assume the UN just carried on with the original four. There are a few tweets and at least one report that tell us a bit more of what happened.
A Libya Prospect article reports that on the second day of meetings, the Political Dialogue Committee called on the Presidential Council (PC) of the GNA to solve its problems before the formation of the new government. The article says: A close source to the dialogue meetings said that the Tuesday morning session witnessed verbal altercations between the head of the PC, Fayez Al-Sarraj, and the two PC members, Al-AlQatrani and Fathi El-Majbari. Al-Qatrani had been boycotting meetings of the PC and refused to attend any meetings in Tripoli. He no doubt attended this meeting at the urging of the UN envoy Martin Kobler. Both Al-Qatrani and Omar Al-Aswad another boycott member from Zintan were at the meetings. According to the Prospect Al-Serraj had not clarified whether he will work on creating a new government or will reduce the number of ministers in the GNA. This is surprising in that he is already a week over the deadline for presenting the new GNA to the HoR. It does not seem as if presenting the list and getting the vote of confidence is a high priority as one would think it would be.
In a press release, PC member Abdul-Salam Kujman said the dialogue committee wanted the PC to solve its problems in order that all PC members return to meetings to discuss formation of the new government. Kujman said: “We are working on gathering all of the PC members, especially after our colleague, Ali Al-Qatrani, showed us the flexibility and also after the return of our colleague, Omar Al-Aswad." However, sources said the morning meetings could not reach a consensus. Al-Qatrani and Al-Aswad were said to insist on the formation of a new government. The two also said that all previous decisions must be canceled as they were not taken by all PC members. | have often wondered what the requirements were for decisions of the PC to be valid. According to these two all members must be involved and perhaps the decision must even be unanimous.
What the report shows is that there are still divisions within the PC and the addition of the two boycotters have made the divisions even wider. One tweet says:" Ezeddin Agil: Ali al-Gitrani returned and brought with him controversial demands over which there is disagreement.#Newsroom". Many members of the PC and the GNA want Haftar to play no role in any future GNA yet a tweet claims: @KoblerSRSG tells @FRANCE24 that Haftar must have a role in #Libya army "otherwise there will be no unity of the country" If Haftar is given a role as Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), suggests, the GNA is likely implode as all the Islamists and many others within the GNA revolt.
Meanwhile Haftar gives no sign of wanting to join the GNA or reconcile with the PC led by Faiez Serraj. He said that U.S. air attacks on Sirte were illegal. He said that in four years the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) had achieved nothing and also bore the prime responsibility for the present political impasse. Haftar claims the GNA has not yet been legitimized by a vote of confidence by the HoR. Thus the US attacks violated Libya's sovereignty. Haftar considers the HoR al-Thinni government the sole legitimate Libyan government. Haftar will not accept article 8 of the LPA that makes the PC head of the armed forces. Serraj has said control of the armed forces cannot rest on a single personality a jab at Haftar. Haftar claimed to be ready to liberate Sirte but that Misratans acted without coordinating their attack with the army. Of course they did under the auspices of the GNA not Haftar's army which the GNA does not recognize.
There seems little hope of reconciliation. Haftar seems to be busy laying the groundwork for the formation of a military government in eastern| Libya or Cyrenaica. Meanwhile, the UN and GNA are busy assembling cheerleaders and attending photo ops and have not indicated what they have planned for the future.
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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