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article imageOp-Ed: UN still sticks to its own LPA rather than consider rival plan

By Ken Hanly     Dec 9, 2015 in Politics
Tripoli - The new head of the UN support mission in LIbya, Martin Kobler, continues to push for the two rival Libyan governments to approve the same Libyan Political Agreement(LPA) as his predecessor Bernardino Leon had previously failed to have approved.
Since Kobler took over on November 17, he has pressured the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) based in Tobruk in the east and the rival General National Congress(GNC) in Tripoli to both sign the agreement. He has had no more luck than Leon did so far. Kobler insists the text of the LPA and the names of those suggested as senior members of the Government of National Accord(GNA) not be changed. Both parliaments want changes. So far neither parliament has approved the UN plan although Kobler insists that majorities in both parliaments approve the LPA. This has never been tested by a vote.
Kobler never mentions when he expects the two parliaments to meet to vote on the LPA. The HoR was unable to meet again today, December 8, because they could not achieve a quorum. This is apparently now eight times the HoR has been unable to vote because of the lack of a quorum. The pro-Tobruk Libya Herald claims:
This ‘‘spoiler’’ minority in the HoR is believed to represent the president of the HoR, Ageela Salah, and members supported and in support of retired General Hafter.....This is believed to be the very same group of minority HoR members who recently met their minority counterparts from the GNC in Tunis and proposed a new and alternative Libyan-Libyan political agreement. This is biased reporting, showing the Herald supports the Kobler line. Those opposing the LPA are called by the negative term "spoilers." The other aspect of the situation is the 92 members of the HoR who signed a statement supporting the LPA did so with two provisions, one being Hafter stay on as commander of chief of the Libyan National Army — a provision in direct contradiction to the present LPA and completely unacceptable to the rival government and many others as well. Kobler applauded the statement by the 92 members in spite of the fact that their position actually rejects the LPA as it is. Those who propose the Libya-Libya agreement could hardly be Haftar supporters. Haftar supporters reject the whole idea that the GNC has any legitimacy. They would never talk with them and even less would they agree to a committee that has equal numbers from each government to choose members of an interim government. This skewed reporting is perhaps just another ploy to support the Kobler LPA while ignoring reality.
Late in November, the HoR met to vote on the LPA but after a fight, the meeting was suspended with no vote. It was at that time that Kobler praised the statement of the 92 members as a majority supporting the LPA in principle even though the statement rejects the LPA in fact. His latest release from the UN website continues the refrain that the existing LPA is the only way forward towards a political solution and fails even to mention the new agreement reached recently by some members of the HoR and GNC who met in Tunis without participation of the UN in order to reach an agreement between the two main Libyan rivals without foreign interference. Not surprisingly, there has been considerable negative reaction to the development and the UN is continuing as if the existing LPA is as Kobler's release says, the only way forward.
A number of international ambassadors to Libya have supported Kobler insisting as he does that the UN LPA is the only way forward, and implying that the new deal was an attempt to derail the UN process: A statement by the ambassadors and special envoys of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the US, along with the head of the EU delegation, came after Libya's rival parliaments announced a deal of their own that was reached without UN participation. The reporting by the Daily Mail here is not accurate. The two parliaments did not announce a deal of their own it was announced by a group representing members of both parliaments. The deal has not been approved by either parliament.
The Libya Herald reports that 92 members of the HoR, in a statement, criticized the agreement agreed to between "minority" members of the HoR and GNC. The Herald claims that the 92 had supported the LPA brokered by the UN. That is simply not true. They approved the principle of an LPA but demanded changes in it before they would approve it. This misreporting is deliberate I expect. The statement refers to the minority as "hardliners" whose views had been "overriden" by the political dialogue "due to their refusal of its outcomes." Of course this is not so, because the dialogue result which they reject has never been approved by either parliament.
Apparently there is a meeting planned between the HoR president Salah and the GNC president Nuri Abu Sahmain. The statement reminds the two, they must accept a set of principles including:
1- To admit to the existence of terrorism (in Libya) and pledge to fighting it.
2- To admit that what is happening in Benghazi is a war against terrorism undertaken by the Libyan army.
3- To recognize that the military institution related to the HoR is a professional one and its legitimacy is unquestionable.
4- To adhere to stopping the support of what is called Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) by all means politically, financially and militarily.
Principle 3 contradicts the Kobler LPA, which has senior members of the GNA carrying out the function of commander in chief and not Khalifa Haftar, as at present. The principle is a thinly disguised warning that Haftar cannot be removed from his position. Principles 2 and 4 would also be rejected by the GNC. While they accept fighting terrorism as represented by groups such as the Islamic State, they make alliances with other radical groups such as BRSC, mentioned in principle 4. They see the war in Benghazi as against their ally the BRSC whom they do not regard as terrorists. However, there do seem to be Islamic State fighters in Benghazi as well.
Although the statement attributed itself to 92 HoR members, there were no names or signatures attached to it. There is to be an international meeting on Libya in Rome this Sunday.
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 political agreement, HoR government, GNC government libya
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