By Sami Zaptia.
Tripoli, 11 October 2014:
Speaking at today’s UN sponsored reconciliation meeting in Tripoli between the two political factions threatening to . . .[restrict]split Libya following nearly two months of summer fighting, the UN Special Representative to the Secretary General, Bernardino Leon said that today’s meeting was a start to the political process agreed two weeks ago in the Libyan city of Ghadames.
“We are here as friends of Libya and in support of legitimate institutions represented by parliamentarians present here”, he said indicating to the dozen or so House of Representatives (HoR) members in the room from both sides.
About thirty or so members of the HoR, mainly Islamists and members from Misrata have boycotted the HoR sessions held in the eastern city of Tobruk. The excuse for the boycott is that the HoR had not been handed over power correctly by the outgoing GNC and that it should be convening in Benghazi as opposed to Tobruk.
Militias aligned with the group of boycotting HoR members consequently launched a military attack on Tripoli in an effort to delay or prevent the convening of the HoR in Tobruk. A rump of 20 or so GNC members subsequently met in Tripoli, denouncing the Tobruk HoR as illegitimate and appointed an alternative government and Prime Minister.
Leon, however, stressing the UN and International community’s sole support of the HoR, made no mention of the rump of GNC members meeting in Tripoli or of its so called Government of National Salvation led by Omar Al-Hassi.
Leon stressed the “exclusion of terrorism” but also stressed the need for “inclusion” in the reconciliation process. Leon said that the dialogue is expected to begin in two weeks and that a parallel dialogue on security would take place with the armed groups.
“We discussed the agenda and what this dialogue is about and not about”, Leon explained regarding today’s meeting. “We are at the beginning of dialogue and only one agreement has been reached – the agreement to have dialogue”, he added to counter various rumours doing the rounds about what the talks had agreed to.
“This is a dialogue between parliamentarians”, he further stressed, clarifying the fact that the militias were not part of this particular process.
Asked at the subsequent press conference by Libya Herald as to how could the parties engaged in the dialogue be assumed to represent the militias and if they could be relied on to sell any agreement to the militias, Leon said that there is the need for “two parallel processes”. Both processes have to be “closely connected”.
Leon said that there needs to be one parliament representing Libya based on inclusion. There needs to be dialogue with the militias and an immediate ceasefire otherwise the militias must accept the “consequence”, he stressed, implying sanctions or more.
Leon quashed earlier reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was visiting other Libyan cities besides Tripoli.
Asked what the UN’s response would be to the anticipated Constitutional Court’s verdict on the legitimacy of the HoR and its convening in Tobruk, Leon said that the UN would respect any court decisions.
However, he added intriguingly that he felt that Libya had a “political” and not a “legal” problem. [/restrict]