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article imageOp-Ed: UN envoy convenes dialogue meeting without main participant

By Ken Hanly     Sep 17, 2015 in Politics
Skhirat - UN Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon is apparently convening a dialogue meeting, even though the internationally-recognized government, the House of Representatives(HoR), has reportedly rejected the latest agreement.
The HoR not only rejected the amendments added to the original draft but called back its negotiators for consultations. Apparently some were not able to return immediately but even if they are in Skhirat, it is questionable whether they will take part in negotiations. The HoR made a series of demands for returning to the dialogue, including one that ensures the head of the Libyan Army, Khalifa Haftar, remains in his position — a demand that conflicts not only with the amended agreement but probably with the original agreement as well which gave the role of commander in chief to senior members of the Government of National Accord.
Leon said yesterday that he had spent the day consulting with different delegations, both that were at Skhirat — the location of the talks — and those that were not. He said the United Nations Support Mission in Libya(UNSMIL) had decided to expedite the talks and on Thursday to start discussion on the candidates for the Government of National Accord. This is bizzare, that discussion should take place about who will be in the government when one main party is not even present. The HoR has submitted names however. Presumably the Tripoli-based GNC government is back at the talks with their names. Leon hoped all the parties would return to discuss the names. No doubt there will be a great deal of pressure on the HoR representatives to return. If they do not return they face the threat of the selection being decided without their input.
Leon had his own spin on the announcement that the HoR had rejected the amended draft. In answer to a question he said: No. I don’t think that Tobruk has rejected (agreement’ version) ... According to my information there was no quorum. It was simply a communique made by a number of deputies … This is not a decision of Parliament… Leon also noted that if the parties decided to stop the process it might continue with another envoy. This could happen as both sides have had disputes with Leon over his actions.
Leon also downplayed the divisions between the two parties, saying there was a vigorous debate and that this was much better than shooting. As usual, Leon uses positive rhetoric that either spins or ignores the reality: " We will work on agreement that respects the principle of consensus, the principles of inclusion and balance, and this is what the United Nations has been trying to do and will continue to do." He claims that the two parties are not that far apart and that he is not too worried about substance. They appear worlds apart. The GNC demands that its amendments be incorporated in the final draft, while the HoR rejects any amendments to the previous draft.
Leon has not respected consensus. Earlier he made amendments to a draft that took away virtually all powers given to the GNC in a previous draft. He did this without consulting or gaining the approval of the GNC. He has along with his foreign supporters threatened members of the GNC who would not sign on to the previous agreement. He has moved to have those opposing the agreement sanctioned by the UN, a move that failed. Leon's statement appended is ludicrous. The EU has named several persons from each side as subject to sanctions including General Khalifa Haftar for not supporting the process and agreement. It is not clear if the sanctions were ever actually implemented. The press cannot apparently bother to follow up on this matter.
Leon also has been manipulative. As part of his parallel military dialogue designed to get the military of the two rival governments to agree to the political settlement and a ceasefire, Leon met with Tripoli-associated forces in Misrata without ever getting permission from the central command. He tried this a second time and the president of the GNC warned Leon about these actions designed to split the Tripoli government forces.
Leon reports nothing about the parallel military dialogue. It is not clear who he is talking to on the HoR side. General Haftar rejects the agreement even without amendments, although his own government accepted it. He has said the GNC militia forces, Libya Dawn, are terrorists and that he will neither talk to them or agree to a ceasefire. He recently stopped his own prime minister from flying to a conference. Leon himself has said several times that a political agreement is not enforceable without a parallel political agreement. The US has just issued a new warning for all its citizens to leave Libya immediately. We may see soon how this all fits together, assuming it does.
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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