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article imageOp-Ed: United Nations statement on Tunis Libyan Dialogue talks

By Ken Hanly     Jul 19, 2016 in World
Tunis - Now that the Libyan Political Dialogue talks held in Tunis from July 16 to 18 are over, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya has issued a press release.
The statement on the UNSMIL website said that the meetings were held to ensure that there was a continued commitment to implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement signed in Skhirat Morocco last December 17th. The meeting also was in recognition of the challenges to the implementation of the agreement that had led to the deterioration of basic services and necessities of life.
Just over half of the 40 Dialogue members attended as a recent tweet notes: "Only 22 of the 40 members of Libya Dialogue, which created the UN-backed govt, attend key meeting Tunis"
The Dialogue members also met with the Presidency Council(PC) to discuss difficulties the Council faced in trying to carry out its duty. The group decided to hold regular follow up meetings to assess steps taken by the PC to address various crises such as electrical production, cash shortages at banks and the necessity to ensure all blocked roads are open to improve security.
The PC already fired top officials of GECOL the state electricity producer including all board members. It is not clear how much fault for the electricity shortages can be blamed on the GECOL management. Some blackouts were caused by militia groups diverting power and in some areas pylons were sabotaged. GECOL managed just the day before the firings to have one unit up and running again in the recently recaptured power plant at Sirte.
The meeting also stressed the need to resume production and export of oil. No mention was made of objections by members of the HoR to the recent agreement on oil exports arrived at by the two rival National Oil Companies. The deal may already have fallen apart. No mention either that some oil fields are held by parties who do not recognized the GNA and may not allow production to flow through to oil export ports. The Dialogue also called on the two members of the nine-member PC to resume their duties.
The Dialogue members also asked the House of Representatives (HoR) to fulfill their obligations under the LPA. This is a refrain that Kobler has been singing for months now but to no avail. The Dialogue group did establish a committee to consult with the HoR in this regard and the release mentions particularly Articles 16 and 17 of the LPA; Article 16 states:The House of Representatives, after being joined by the boycotting members who wish to do so shall convene a session dedicated to the consideration of the following issues:
1. The interim location for the convening of the House of Representatives.
2. Review of the rules of procedure of the House of Representatives.
3. Formation of the House of Representatives’ committees.
4. Decisions and legislations that were issued by the House of Representatives.
5. Development of legislative work in order to promote efficiency and transparency.
Provided a decision is made on those issues no later than 15 October 2015.
Notice the date. It is not clear how the process is supposed to go now the date has passed by about ten months. The article is to be carried out only after Article 13, which involves the HoR voting confidence in the GNA. Surely the first order of business should be to ensure that this takes place. The HoR does not even recognize the GNA and has its own government. It is rather useless to try and have it perform tasks that assume it is already the legislature of the HoR.
The Dialogue also discussed issues related to the State Council, a largely advisory body composed of former members of the General National Congress of the former Salvation Government based in Tripoli. Some have complained the group has attempted to go beyond an advisory role.
The statement said the Dialogue will continue to meet regularly to check on implementation of the LPA. The group renewed its support of the PC but said continuation of support was conditional on the PC and the GNA being successful in fulfilling the tasks assigned to them by the LPA. The group was committed to building communication bridges with all Libyan parties to expand support of the LPA.
As usual what is missing from the statement is most significant. Rather strangely there is no mention of the new draft constitution presented to the group on Saturday. Why? Is there too much opposition to the draft? Was the draft passed using the revised quorum requirement that a court had said was illegal? Nothing is explained. The Libya Prospect even reports that discussion of the draft constitution was linked by Kobler "to the necessity of unifying the Libyan army under the Presidential Council." It is not clear to me how these two items are linked but in any event the linkage or even the new constitution are not worth a mention in the final communique.
The statement fails to mention General Haftar and the failure to have him join a unified command under the PC as required by the LPA. Indeed, the press statement does not even mention creation of one unified Libyan army under PC command as Kobler emphasized as a necessity for Libya to be unified and secure. This was one of the important issues talked about yet it is not mentioned in the press release. The Tripoli Post says that not much seems to have been accomplished by the three day meetings. Kobler had suggested that he would have new plans after the end of Ramadan but they do not seem to have been evident at the Tunis meetings.
The 71 strong National Sovereignty Bloc complained that the committee which the HoR had formed to be part of the Dialogue had been dissolved earlier this year. Kobler simply ignored this and continued to deal with the group, thus ignoring the will of the HoR. The group said Kobler was acting as if he were the governor of Libya. The group said Kobler ruled Libya according to his whims. The group also said that the State Council was corrupt and that the PC was bribing politicians by offering them and their relatives jobs.
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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