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article imageOp-Ed: Faiez Serraj head of Libyan unity government talks with opponents

By Ken Hanly     May 14, 2017 in Politics
Tunis - Faiez Serraj, head of the Presidential Council of the UN-brokered Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), along with Fathi Majbri the deputy president, had talks in Tunis with a group of House of Representatives (HoR) members mainly from the east.
The Tunis talks focused on possible developments from the meeting Serraj had earlier with the commander of the forces associated with the HoR, the Libyan National Army (LNA), Marshal Khalifa Haftar. The talks were held over a week ago in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The meetings were described by many as positive and a breakthrough although there was no joint statement after the meetings. Separate statements were made by each side emphasizing quite different aspects of a proposed agreement. Nothing has been signed. There were to follow up talks this week. An interesting article analysing the situation can be found here. It emphasizes that there is no deal yet.
Issa-Al-Araibi a member of the group who is from Benghazi said the members told Serraj to hold more meetings with Haftar. Up until now, Al-Araibi has been an opponent of the Presidency Council (PC) and GNA that Serraj heads. The talks followed upon those two days ago at which Serraj head briefed about 50 members of the HoR on his meeting with Haftar. One member of the HoR said he was disappointed that Serraj had flown to Tunis rather than Cairo to meet Serraj. He wanted Haftar to meet Serraj in Cairo. He blamed hard-liners in Tripoli and Misrata for the cancellation of further second round talks scheduled to be held this week in Cairo.
While the details of any agreement still appear unclear, it seems certain that Haftar must be offered a significant role in any new unified government before the HoR will implement the terms of the LPA and vote confidence in the GNA government. There must also be agreement on amending the LPA by at least deleting section 8 that deprives Haftar of leadership of the armed forces of the unified GNA. This is a non-starter with many in the PC and certainly within the State High Council as well. There has been considerable reaction opposed to any such agreement. An important militia group demanded the resignation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs: A powerful brigade from Tripoli demanded Tuesday Foreign Minister-designate of UN-installed government, Mohamed Sayala, to resign for his recognition of Khalifa Haftar as “the General Commander of the Libyan Army.” Haitem Tajouri-led Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade, which protects HQ of the ministry, said work will be suspended inside the ministry in protest against Sayala’s recognition.
Nevertheless UN Special Envoy, Martin Kobler, expressed his optimism with his usual type of tweet with almost no substance or detailed information: "Very positive mtg w/ PM Serraj in #Tripoli. Discussed recent developments & way fwd. Strong international support for the political process." Another tweet indicates that Haftar is meeting again with Egyptian president Sisi: "Sisi meets Haftar in Cairo today. Egyptian president's office says he 'stressed the need to lift the arms embargo'." Sisi has been a strong supporter of Haftar. Perhaps next week an actual agreement will be signed although any agreement that gives Haftar a significant role in a unified GNA could very well cause an outright war against Haftar.
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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