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article imageOp-Ed: Tripoli-based rival government may return to Libyan talks

By Ken Hanly     Sep 14, 2015 in Politics
Skhirat - Talks designed to forge an agreement between the two rival Libyan governments have been adjourned for two days while the Tripoli-based GNC representatives return to Tripoli to discuss recent amendments and submit names for one prime minister's deputy.
Bernardino Leon appears to have forged a consensus between the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) government based in the eastern city of Tobruk and the Tripoli-based government in the capital Tripoli. The HoR negotiators had initialled an earlier fifth draft of an agreement, but the GNC government demanded changes before it would rejoin the dialogue and did not initial the draft. Recent talks and changes to the draft appear to have convinced the GNC that at least some of its concerns and amendments are being addressed.
Both the pro-HoR Libya Herald and the pro-GNC Libya Observer report that changes have been made to the draft agreement to address the concerns of the GNC. The Herald notes Leon was urging the HoR to accept the amendments. The speaker of the HoR had earlier demanded that there be no changes to the draft agreement that had been initialled and Leon himself had maintained that there could be no amendments. Leon apparently thought it was worth risking more problems to address the issues brought up by the GNC in order to bring them on board. There has been no response as yet from the HoR. The commander of the HoR armed forces, Khalifa Haftar, rejected the earlier agreement. New amendments make it even more certain that he will not remain as commander of the armed forces under the Government of National Accord(GNA). Both the original draft and the new draft conflict with the demand of the speaker of the HoR that all legislation and appointments made by the HoR be recognized as valid by the GNA. Perhaps the HoR may have decided to sideline Haftar but I somehow doubt it. If it has, Haftar could very well mount a military coup.
Leon distributed the text of the new agreement to the parties on Sunday but I have not been able to locate a copy on line. In answer to a question as to whether GNC amendments were introduced into the text that has been initialled or just in the annexes, Leon admitted that there were some actual amendments to the text: LEON: well, basically most of the issues we have been discussing today are part were from the annexes or the final provisions. But equally some of these issues, if both sides agreed – the House of Representatives and the Congress in Tripoli - will agree with this proposals will also amend the text in not very important points, in some, I would say, around four, five very concrete points. I would say that small amendments, no big changes. So the basis of the text remains the same, with some amendments. Now the nine remarks that were proposed by the Congress have been introduced, have been addressed in this whole package, and the whole package, of course, means the final provisions, the annexes and also the main text. The GNC amendments are listed at the end of this Libya Herald article.
One report by El Taher el Makni, a member of the GNC, claims the GNC had registered nine amendments to the draft and will return to the negotiating table with the name of the candidates for one deputy of the prime minister, but only if its amendments will be accepted. It is not clear if these are new amendments or the GNC is simply requiring the HoR to accept the nine amendments already referenced in Leon's remarks. We will soon know if the HoR will accept the amendments in the new draft and continue participating in the talks. Leon hopes to have an agreement signed by September 20, less than a week from now.
Even if there is a political agreement, it will be unenforceable without a parallel military agreement between the Tripoli military, mainly the Libya Dawn militia, and those of the HoR commanded by Khalifa Haftar. Neither of the two forces have accepted the political agreement so far. Haftar has made it clear he will not negotiate with or even sign a ceasefire with Libya Dawn, whom he calls terrorists. There appear to be many roadblocks remaining before there can be any peace between the rival governments even if there is an agreement on paper to settle the conflict on September 20.
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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