Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1265, (8 - 14 October 2015)
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1265, (8 - 14 October 2015)

Ahram Weekly

UN warns against obstruction

After missing the deadline to finalise a national accord initialled in July, Libya’s factions are being pressured by the UN to stop fighting, writes Kamel Abdallah

Al-Ahram Weekly

Participants of the UN-sponsored Libyan dialogue returned to Skhirat, Morocco, on Sunday following a high-level meeting at the UN headquarters in New York on 2 October. At the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Libyan factions to end their civil warfare after another deadline passed without their signatures appearing on a peace deal.

The negotiating teams in Skhirat are expected to discuss the details of the agreement’s annex. They need to reach a final consensus on the agreement’s main text before discussing who will be nominated to set on the proposed national accord government.

UN Security Council members called on the Libyan factions to agree to the UN-proposed agreement to end the ongoing Libyan crisis. They cautioned them against obstructing the dialogue and attempting to circumvent the framework of international legitimacy and accountability, as embodied in UN Security Council resolutions on Libya.

The meeting was attended by delegates from 37 nations, along with officials of the African Union, the European Union and the Arab League. Representatives from the General National Congress (GNC), based in Tripoli, and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives the two chief rivals in the Libyan crisis — were also present.

Participants voiced their strong support for the draft agreement and stressed that this was the only way to end the current conflict. They stressed their opposition to any military or unilateral solution, and called on the Libyan factions to conclude the process quickly and without further delay, in keeping with the timeframe established by the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

The new deadline for signing the agreement and forming the national consensus government is 21 October, which coincides with the end of the House of Representatives’ term.

Participants at the New York meeting underscored the need for appropriate security arrangements and a ceasefire in order to generate an environment conducive to the implementation of the agreement.

They expressed their deep concern over the continuing deterioration in the state of security in Libya in general, and the mounting terrorist threat in the country, as well as the deteriorating economy, governmental bifurcation and the current migrant crisis from Libya.

They stressed that the national consensus government is the only agent capable of unifying the Libyan people and enabling them to counter these threats and challenges. They further spoke of the need to complete the process of drafting and ratifying a new constitution in order to end the interim phase.

The dialogue round in New York, which was attended by ambassadors and ministers from the US, the UK, France, Egypt and Algeria, saw heated debates and objections from Libyan factions against the participation of certain parties.

The GNC objected to the participation of Mohamed Al-Hadi Al-Dairi, foreign minister in the internationally recognised government headed by Abdullah Al-Thinni, and to the presence of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry whose remarks triggered an angry response from GNC delegates.

Foreign Minister Shoukry, in his speech at that meeting, voiced Egypt’s opposition to changes to the political agreement approved and initialled by most parties on 12 July. Even some opponents to the GNC in Libya protested what they regarded as an attempt by the Egyptian minister to intervene in Libya’s domestic affairs.

The upcoming deadline of 21 October may usher in a new and perhaps broader whirlpool of chaos as the House of Representatives constitutional term comes to an end. Some observers believe that the Tobruk parliament will seek to renew its term, as the GNC did.

Meanwhile, General Khalifa Haftar is contemplating the creation of a military council to run the country during the next phase of the interim period.

Deputies from the eastern region, historically known as Cyrenaica, believe that MPs from that region should form a Cyrenaican parliament and declare an independent state. Such a plan, however, conflicts with the vision of General Haftar, who aspires to rule the country through a military council.

His plans, however, are hampered by, above all, his inability to gain control over large tracts of territory in the east. That some parties could contemplate such scenarios in the event that Tripoli and Tobruk fail to reach an accord and create a national unity government forebodes an even more anarchic period of militia warfare than the country has already seen.

Against the backdrop of the already existing chaos, the Constituent Assembly charged with drafting the country’s new constitution has failed to produce a draft constitution before the end of its term. The assembly’s failure has given rise to many questions regarding its role and work since it was elected in 2014.

Neutral parties maintain that the assembly should adopt the 1951 Constitution or the revised version of 1962 for the remainder of the interim period. Or, at the very least, they say, the constitutional drafting body could have announced its inability to complete a constitution under current circumstances and prepared a new Constitutional Declaration to govern the fourth interim period.

In an important development, Prime Minister Al-Thinni recently met with Haftar. This was the first meeting between the two since gunmen, on the orders of Haftar, prevented Al-Thinni, at least twice, from travelling abroad, giving rise to rumours that Haftar planned to detain Al-Thinni, along with other government officials.

Al-Thinni, accompanied by Minister of Finance and Planning Kamel Al-Hassi, was transported by military helicopter to Haftar’s residence. At the three-hour meeting, the men were said to have discussed ways to support the army in its war against terrorism, the promotion of cooperation between the government and the army, and the situation on the eastern and western fronts. Also in attendance was army Chief-of-Staff Abdel Razeq Al-Nazouri.

In the field, fierce clashes continue in Benghazi between the army and Islamist militiamen. Meanwhile, in the area known as the petroleum crescent, fighters with the Islamic State group made a new push toward Al-Sadra petroleum exporting port and clashed with forces from the Petroleum Facilities Guards.

The incident, which led to several dead and wounded on both sides, underscored once again the danger of the growing presence of the extremist terrorist organisation in the middle of Libya.

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