Four years since Qaddafi’s death, this month is now crucial for Libya

A man displays a poster at a protest against the U.N. to draft agreement talks headed by the Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Bernardino Leon in Benghazi, September 18, 2015.

A man displays a poster at a protest against the U.N. to draft agreement talks headed by the Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Bernardino Leon in Benghazi, September 18, 2015.


If negotiations between Libya’s two warring factions – the East’s House of Representatives (HOR) and the West’s General National Congress (GNC) – go according to plan, Oct. 20 could not only mark the fourth anniversary of the killing of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, but also the emergence of the long-awaited national unity government.

A new round of negotiations took place on Oct. 2 at the U.N. headquarters in New York, in the presence of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The United Nations has been pushing for a deal before the HOR’s mandate ends on Oct. 20 to prevent Libya slipping further into chaos. This was emphasized at the U.N. meeting.

The HOR, however, voted on Oct. 5 to extend its mandate until it could hand over power to an elected legislative body. This was done “to avoid a vacuum in the country,” said MP Tarek Juroushi.

This has raised doubts about its sincerity, but HOR spokesman Faraj Hashem said the extension would not hinder its participation in the U.N.-backed process.

Rabee Shrair, a member of the Libyan National Dialogue Development Committee, told Al Arabiya News:‎ “There might not be a full agreement, there might only be a partial agreement, but there’s a big possibility an agreement will reached by Oct. 20.”

However, the real concern among many politicians seems to be what comes after.

A member of the former transitional government told Al Arabiya News: “One of the first obstacles the national unity government might face is drafting a new constitution, especially since the constitution-drafting assembly is in disagreement over many clauses… The real concern is how to operate all of this in a chaotic, violent Libya.”

Security

Former GNC member Abdul Monem al-Yaseer said on Oct. 6 that a new government would not be able to operate if surrounded by militias.

“How could a government incapable of protecting itself deal with the international community?”

However, Shrair said: “The U.N. negotiations include armed entities. The international community has taken a decision to help the national unity government even with security concerns.”

None of Libya’s governing bodies have had enough arms to fully equip an army since the U.N. Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Libya in 2011 in order to quell violence.

“Once the national unity government is formed, the embargo might be lifted to form an army,” said Shrair. “The international community needs a strong partner to maintain security in Libya.”

However, the international community’s patience seems to be running short. European countries are backing a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution to seize and destroy suspected migrant-smuggling boats on the high seas.

HOR President Ageila Saleh has condemned the idea of entering Libyan waters, but Ban said: “My special representative has based his work on the principles of non-interference in Libya’s internal affairs and respect for its national sovereignty.”


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