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Op-Ed: Libyan Political Agreement says Haftar lost his job on Dec. 17

The draft as of July 2 has long been available on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) website. I was surprised the draft as it was when signed by members of the Libyan Dialogue, including some from each of the rival governments, has just been published in English on the UN website. The draft was signed in Skhirat, Morocco on December 17, 2015. Publication of the English text is a welcome move towards some transparency by UNSMIL. I was particularly interested in seeing whether the status of Khalifa Haftar, the commander in chief of the Libyan National Army associated with the internationally-recognized House of Representative (HoR) located in Tobruk in eastern Libya, had changed. The rival General National Congress (GNC) government is located in the west in Tripoli. Once the GNA term begins after the HoR gives a vote of confidence suppporting the GNA, only the GNA will be recognized as the sole legal Libya government.

When I looked at Article 8 of the new text, in section 2, senior officials of the GNA, the Presidency Council are still assigned the job of commander in chief of the LNA once the GNA is approved by the HoR and its terms begins: 2. Terms of Reference of the Presidency Council of the Council of Ministers:
a. Assume the functions of the Supreme Commander of the Libyan army
I had always thought that it was this provision that those favoring Haftar had objected to in the LPA and why they support it only in principle and are demanding that Haftar remain as commander in chief of the LNA. However, to my astonishment there is an addition to Article 8 in what are called Additional Provisions added to the LPA. Part of the addition to article 8 reads as follows: Article (8)
All powers of the senior military, civil and security posts stipulated in the Libyan legislations and
laws in force shall be transferred to the Presidency Council of the Council of Ministers immediately
upon signing this Agreement. The Presidency Council must take a decision on the occupants of such
posts within a period that does not exceed twenty (20) days. In case a decision is not reached during
this period, the Presidency Council shall take decisions on new appointments within a period that
does not exceed thirty (30) days…,

This is astonishing. The Presidential Council has had the powers of all senior military personnel including Haftar’s role of commander in chief of the LNA since December 17. There is no sign that Haftar ever gave up his role nor has any other senior military official of the LNA. The Council was supposed to decide on who would occupy these posts within 20 days. There was not even an announcement as to whether the first 20 days deadline was missed. If the 30 days is to start after the 20 days then there would be 50 days in all so there would still be time for the appointments to be decided. However, this would be past the deadline for the formation of the GNA last Saturday in any event. What is clear is that the GNA has been violating the terms of the LPA since December 17, unless I am reading the text incorrectly.

Some time ago I criticized an article that suggested that the authority of the GNA was being challenged by Haftar since he was continuing as commander in chief of the Libyan National Army, even though the terms of the LPA stipulated that the Presidency Council had this role immediately upon the LPA being signed. I have not been able to locate the article but I must apologize to the author. He apparently was correct. It is astonishing that no one else has remarked on what is happening. Article 64 of the LPA states:Article (64)
The Libyan Political Dialogue may convene after the adoption of this Agreement at the request of
any party to the Agreement to examine what it deems a severe breach to one of its items.
Perhaps it is time that some of the signers of the LPA convene the Libyan Political Dialogue to examine some of the severe breaches of the LPA that have already taken place.

What is important is not the LPA, but the power politics behind it. Those powers will pay attention to the LPA only when it serves their purposes. Those powers are roughly the same countries that planned the first regime change in Libya, again under the auspices of the UN, with a no-fly zone resolution. Now you have a UN Security Council resolution pledging support and assistance for the GNA and sanctions against those who interfere with its establishment.

The powers behind this could not even be bothered to change the dates. You have ridiculous articles such as this: Article (65)The Constitutional Declaration shall be amended in accordance with the stipulations of this. Agreement as per the legally stated procedures and according to the proposal in Annex 4 of this Agreement within a date that does not exceed 20 October 2015.
Why would no one change the date? What sense does it make to sign an agreement with dates that ensure that as soon as you sign the agreement you have violated it? The agreement was signed on December 17, 2015.

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