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article imageOp-Ed: No sign of Libya unity government agreement before Ramadan

By Ken Hanly     Jun 17, 2015 in Politics
Tripoli - When Bernardino Leon, UN special envoy to Libya announced that he had presented a 4th draft of a peace agreement to rival Tripoli and Tobruk government representatives, he said he hoped that an agreement could be finalized before the start of Ramadan.
Ramadan starts Thursday, June 18, so it appears the deadline will be missed. The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has said almost nothing about the progress of the talks, although there has been reaction from both parties. After talks in Morocco, representatives went to Berlin, where the atmosphere seemed positive, even though the Tobruk government had rejected the draft and called its delegates back to Tobruk for consultation. In Berlin, the delegates were joined by officials from many countries and from the security council of the UN. All applauded the attempt to find a political solution to the Libyan crisis. The Berlin meetings were a week ago but there is little news about what is to happen next and when. At the Berlin meeting, Leon and western officials stressed how significant the meetings were even saying that they are a last chance for peace. Why is it that there is no news about what is planned for the future to continue the dialogue process? The UNSMIL has its own website complete with press releases. The last press release about the peace dialogues was to announce the meetings in Morocco on June 8. UNSMIL does not think it is worth reporting on the results of the Morocco meetings or the Berlin meetings. Even though Ramadan is tomorrow we have no update on what is happening.
Subsequent to the Berlin talks the Tobruk government again rejected the 4th draft . A committee set up by Tobruk to study the draft said that representatives were divided into three groups. One group thought that the draft was a basis for an agreement but required amendments. Another group wanted to return to the third draft which gave virtually no power to the Tripoli government or GNC and has already been vehemently rejected by that government. A third group wanted nothing to do with the dialogue and the UN process. The response of the Tripoli, GNC, or Salvation government as they call themselves was much more positive. The GNC said that it would present amendments to recognize the decision of the Libyan Supreme Constitutional Court in November of 2014 that the elections to the Tobruk House of Representatives in June 2014 were unconstitutional and the parliament should be dissolved. Tobruk is not about to agree to such an amendment since it does not recognize the validity of the Supreme Court decision. The amendment may be used as a negotiating tool which could be withdrawn if the other side also withdraws an amendment Tripoli could not accept.
Everyone is silent on another crucial issue. Even if a political agreement is reached it can not be implemented unless there is agreement between the main military forces of the two governments. In the case of Tripoli the main force is Libya Dawn itself an umbrella group of militias, although both governments have other militias loyal to them. One positive feature of the situation is that the Tripoli government has been able to make peace with some of its militia foes recently.
A recent article, reports that Misrata fighters have split from the coalition of militias aligned with the GNC or Tripoli government. A new militia group has been formed called the Sumood Front, formed to operate within the capital Tripoli and surrounding area. The article claims this new group has refused to negotiate with the opposition government. This makes no sense. The dialogue so far has only been with political representatives. Leon has talked of bringing Haftar and Libya Dawn together but it has never happened and the military meetings have not been mentioned for ages. The reason is clear, which for some unfathomable reason the article does not even mention. Haftar has said many times that he will never negotiate with Libya Dawn or agree to a cease fire with them. They are terrorists as far as he is concerned. The GNC has been in favor of negotiations from the beginning, what it rejected was the third draft of Leon's proposed peace plan. It was the Tobruk government which at one time withdrew from the dialogue until external pressure and UN agreement that the HoR would be the legitimate legislative authority in any unity government brought them back to the table. These last chance talks apparently are going nowhere but no one is talking about the issue, even though a week ago the talks were big news and of huge importance for Libya's 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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