Libya dialogue advances but Tripoli parliament hinders agreement

Friday 17/07/2015
Members of internationally recognised government of Tobruk

TUNIS - The UN-brokered Libya dia­logue taking place in the Moroccan resort of Skhi­rat has made significant progress. All the delegates present indicated their approval of the latest draft agreement from UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon by initialling it.
Present at the July 11th ceremony to witness that initialling — in effect adding their approval to the draft — were representatives from towns and cities, notably Misrata and Zliten, that had been on opposite sides of the divide, as well as of rival political parties, such as the Mus­lim Brotherhood-linked Justice and Construction Party and the Forces Alliance.
The initialling has been widely welcomed by the international com­munity. The Americans, the Chi­nese and the Europeans, as well as regional organisations such as the Arab Parliament, hailed it an im­portant step to ending the conflict in Libya. But one of the two main parties to the country’s division, the pro-Islamist Tripoli-based General National Congress did not give the draft its blessing. It boycotted the proceedings, angry at the watering-down in the draft of the role of the proposed State Council, most of whose members would come from the GNC. It told Leon that it would not rejoin the dialogue unless he ac­cepted its changes to the document and recognised itself as Libya’s le­gitimate parliament. Leon and the other delegates in effect said, “No.” They went ahead without the GNC.
As a result, the situation is that, unless the GNC relents or other­wise finds a face-saving way of re­turning to Skhirat, the selection of Libya’s next prime minister and government will take place without it. It also means that if and when a Government of National Accord is selected, approved and installed, it will not be able to go to Tripoli. The militias there, many of which were already opposed in principle to the dialogue and the draft, will not per­mit it. The move has left the GNC isolated and the dialogue’s aim of ending Libya’s divisions as far away from being accomplished as ever.
But for the international com­munity it brings much closer a government acceptable to a wider spectrum of Libyan society than the present internationally recognised one of Prime Minister Abdullah al- Thinni.
Moreover, with the international community’s insistence that such a government be formed before it provides support in the fight against terrorism, it also brings closer inter­national backing to hit Islamic State forces in Libya.