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article imageOp-Ed: Rival Libyan presidents demand postponement of LPA signing

By Ken Hanly     Dec 15, 2015 in Politics
Tripoli - The signing of the UN-brokered Libya Political Agreement(LPA)has been delayed one day until Thursday according to members of both the rival parliaments. Associated with the LPA would be the new unity government, the Government of National Accord(GNA).
One parliament, the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR), is located in eastern Libya in Tobruk. The other, the General National Congress, is in the west in Tripoli. Hamid al-Bandag, a member of the HoR and Saad Abu-Sharada, a member of the GNC said that talks were to be held Wednesday in Skhirat Morocco where the signing is to take place to sort out details before the signing. Because of the security situation in Libya, the signing cannot be held there. Abu-Sharada said that the two presidents of the rival parliaments were actually in a meeting today in Malta designed to forge a separate deal with no UN involvement. This meeting is aimed at further developing a rival agreement to the UN that had been first negotiated December 6th almost a week before the UN agreement was announced. Mattia Toaldo, a policy fellow on the European Council on Foreign Relations said: "It's not clear whether that meeting will actually produce a government whereas the U.N. signature will actually endorse a government that has been already proposed. It's unclear whether the two speakers actually want an agreement or are organizing just a meeting to delay the approval of the U.N. deal.Those joining the U.N. process are the moderates who have supported dialogue all along, whereas the two speakers have demonstrated over time to be hardliners." The term "hardliner" has negative connotations. Why are not they principled opponents of the UN-sponsored LPA while the "moderates" are wimps who have caved in to pressure? There is lots of pressure. Apparently opponents are being threatened with sanctions. Toaldo's term "UN signature" is indeed a proper description of the signing!
In a series of short statements found on the pro-GNC Libya Observer Facebook page, the president of the HoR, Aqailah Saleh, does explicitly ask the UNSMIL to postpone the signing of the agreement. So it is no secret that this is at least part of their aim. Saleh also states that the HoR did not mandate anyone to sign an agreement in Skhirat on Wednesday. This makes it clear that the UN was planning to go ahead with the signing without any approval of the HoR. The purpose of the meeting is explained according to the Observer : President of the General National Congress Nuri Abu Abu Sahmain and President of Tobruk parliament Aqailah Saleh held face-to-face meeting in Malta for the first time since the start of the Libyan political dilemma.
The meeting, hosted by the Maltese government, aims to find a way out of the Libyan political crisis. Both sides are expected to vow their full support for the Libyan-Libyan dialogue and the declaration of principles announced by the two parliaments in Tunisia on December 05.
The two rival presidents held talks at the office of Malta's prime minister. Tomorrow a number of committees are to be struck to work out details as to how a new parliament would be formed. Saleh said: "We ask our people to be patient for the sake of Libya. All the people and the world wants stability in Libya . we tell them that this problem will be solved," Anas El Gomali, director ot the Sadeq Institute, a Libyan think tank said: "I would most likely bet my last dollar on the fact that they'll attempt to install a government or at least announce a government around roughly the same time as the U.N. This is going to be a long stage of hiccups for the U.N.-led process because it's incredibly fragile. There are many names that are not going to be there at the signing in Sikhrat.". As Toaldo points out: As the representatives from both sides taking part in the Morocco talks do not hold official titles to represent their respective parliaments in the talks, the number of people who actually show up in Morocco will be an indication of how much support the U.N.-led deal has." To put the issue more straightforwardly, Kobler chose as "representatives" from the HoR and GNC members whom he knew would support the LPA. A negotiating team was not sent from either of the respective rival parliaments, as the presidents of both parliaments have confirmed. As Toaldo notes, some of the militia in the Tripoli area support the UN LPA, so there could be clashes there. There are already clashes there. Toaldo says nothing about the role of Khalifa Haftar the commander of the Libyan National Army of the HoR in all of this. Of course, he may not have been asked. Those presenting the news are often not clued in sufficiently that they are able to ask "experts" probing questions. As I illustrated in a recent article about Libya reporting, prominent news media get basic facts wrong.
We will soon see whether the UN will pay any attention to the renewed push for a Libya-Libya agreement or will simply go ahead on Thursday with their own signing. At least, it seems that the UN has not been able to force either of the two parliaments to agree to the LPA.
Imagine two parties negotiating an agreement with the help of a mediator who is appointed to aid the parties to reach an agreement. When the mediator cannot get the two parties to sign an agreement he or she suggests, the mediator picks out people from each of the rival parties who agree with the suggested agreement and gets them to sign on to it. Neither of the two parties the mediator was supposed to help reach agreement sign on to the agreement. What sort of mediator is that? A UN mediator. What sort of agreement is that? The UN-sponsored LPA.
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
More about Libya dialogue, HoR government, Martin Kobler, LPA, mattia toaldo
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