September 24, 2017

UN unveils plan to break Libya’s political stalemate

UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame at a news conference in Tripoli. (Reuters)

Tunis- The United Nations has launched a road map for a renewed international effort to break a political stalemate in Libya.

Ghassan Salame, the United Na­tions’ Libya envoy, set out an “ac­tion plan” that would amend the Skhirat peace deal. He said draft­ing the plan would begin before a national conference is convened for key Libyan actors to join the political process.

Salame proposed reducing the UN-backed Government of Na­tional Accord’s Presidency Council to three members and having it nominate a new transitional gov­ernment.

Changes to the 2015 deal would need the approval of Libya’s To­bruk-based House of Representa­tives (HoR). An HoR delegation was expected to begin negotia­tions with the Tripoli-based rival assembly. They are under pressure to reach an agreement before De­cember 17, when opponents of the Skhirat deal say it expires.

Salame must balance calls for elections with the need to prepare a legal framework in which a vote can take place. Elections would require an electoral law, and pos­sibly a referendum, to endorse a new constitution.

France, Britain and Italy said they are fully on board with Sala­me’s plans.

There has been a flurry of dis­jointed but intense diplomatic ac­tivity in Libya in the past months. Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al- Sarraj and Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who heads the Libyan Na­tional Army (LNA) in the east, met in July in Paris.

A meeting in early September between the African Union, Sarraj, HoR President Aguila Saleh Issa and Chairman of the High State Council Abdulrahman Asswehly convened in Brazzaville.

Less than a week later, Lon­don hosted a six-party ministerial meeting with foreign ministers of Britain, France, Italy and the Unit­ed Arab Emirates and the US secre­tary of state attending.

Attempts to resolve the Libyan crisis come amid intense European efforts to stem illegal migration and strong competition over in­volvement in Libya’s reconstruc­tion process. There is a growing fear in neighbouring countries of a spillover effect, with experts warn­ing that the Islamic State may re­group in Libya after facing major losses in Iraq and Syria.