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Op-Ed: Tripoli delegates will attend Libyan peace talks in Geneva

UN special envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, appears to have changed direction at the very last moment. He seemed again convene a meeting without the attendance of representatives from the Tripoli-based General Nation Congress(GNC). Earlier in July, he had representatives from the internationally-recognized government and others initial an agreement without the participation of the GNC government who demanded that amendments they had presented be considered. The GNC left the dialogue after a round in which they were presented with an amended fourth draft of the agreement which removed the powers they had been given in that draft. They had neither been consulted on or given their approval to the amendments Leon apparently told the GNC the draft could not be amended because it had been initialed by the other participants. This is the understanding of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) based in Tobruk as well. Leon has never clarified what his position is. No doubt he wanted to leave this unclear. He perhaps hoped the GNC group would attend even without a guarantee their amendments would be considered but he was wrong. The GNC wrote to him after a meeting yesterday demanding that they be given written assurances their amendments be considered or they would not attend. Leon gave in too late to convene a meeting today as was planned.

The pro-HoR government Libya Herald reports along with the pro-GNC Libya Observer that the GNC will now send delegates to Geneva. Leon in response to the letter from GNC president Abu Sahmain, that he welcomed the participation of the GNC in the Geneva meetings in order to find a mechanism to include its amendments in the draft. It is difficult to see how this could happen without the draft itself being amended. Deputy president of the GNC Saleh Al-Makhzoom confirmed that GNC representatives would go to Geneva and that Sahmain had replied to Leon’s letter confirming the GNC’s attendance at the talks.

The Libya Herald notes that while the GNC group is attending the talks and wants to continue the dialogue it rejects the draft as it is and demands changes. There was according to the Herald considerable conflict at the GNC meeting with at least one member wanting the GNC to accept the draft as it was. After this Sunday meeting president Sahmain sent the letter to Leon informing him that the GNC would attend only if its amendments were considered and included in the draft. According to the Herald, the HoR will accept no changes to the text of the draft. Just how an agreement can be reached when one party demands changes to the draft while the other party rejects any changes we will find out tomorrow or a day or so after. There may be no agreement at all. Even if there is an agreement it will be empty until there is a parallel military agreement between the military forces of Tripoli and those of the HoR government headed by Khalifa Haftar. Both he and the Tripoli forces of Libya Dawn that he calls terrorists reject the agreement. Leon has given up reporting on his parallel military dialogue!

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