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Op-Ed: Libyan dialogue on hold as Tobruk government rejects agreement

Just last weekend Leon was optimistic that a final draft of the LPA could be signed before his deadline of September 20. He hoped the Government of National Accord(GNA) or unity government would be up and running before the mandate of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) government runs out late in October. The rival GNC government based in the capital Tripoli appeared ready to return to the dialogue as long as the changes they suggested be incorporated in the revised agreement were accepted by the HoR.

The HoR, according to the pro-HoR Libya Herald, has rejected the amendments. The HoR reportedly met today and rejected Leon’s proposals to agree to GNC-suggested changes to the earlier draft. The HoR then called its negotiating team back to Tobruk for consultations. At the very least, this makes it almost certain that Leon will not be able to have the LPA signed by both governments by September 20. At worst, it could spell the end of the dialogue process. This is not the first time that the HoR has walked away from the process and an agreement. Back in June they rejected a draft agreement because it actually gave some power to the GNC. The HoR returned only after Leon made amendments that took away those powers. Leon made those amendments without the approval of or even consulting with the GNC or its negotiators. At that point the GNC then walked out. Now Leon has again tried to restore some power to the GNC and the HoR refuses to go along.

The HoR announcement was made at a televised press conference by HoR spokesperson Faraj Buhasahim along with the president of the HoR Ageela Gwaider. Gwaider insisted that the draft approved in July was still accepted but not the new changes. In particular, he rejected an amendment that would ensure that the head of the armed forces Khalifa Haftar be replaced. The demands of the GNC had been met by five counter demands by the HoR president, one of which insisted that all appointments and laws made by the HoR be accepted as valid and not changed. Even the draft without amendments could arguably conflict with this demand since the role of commander in chief of the GNA is given to three senior officials in the government not Haftar. This is why Haftar himself rejected Leon’s proposal even without amendments. In spite of his own government’s acceptance of the draft Haftar was not dismissed or even criticized for his position. Haftar wants Libya to be run by a military council when the HoR mandate ends on October 21. Sabotaging the dialogue process is no doubt a positive development for him, and in line with his own plans.

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