By Libya Herald staff
Tunis, 19 January 2015:
There is confusion over the fate of the Geneva dialogue talks after it has emerged . . .[restrict]that the UN Special Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is thinking of accepting the demand from the continuing General National Congress that the dialogue talks restart in Libya.
Yesterday the rump Congress proposed Ghat as the venue when it announced that it would not take part in the talks in Geneva. It would only take part if they were in Libya, it said. But some of the delegates who were in Geneva last week say they will not go to Ghat. “It is not safe,” said Sherif Al-Wafi, the former GNC member who led the 94 Group that boycotted its sessions after it was said to have fallen into the hands of Islamists.
At its meeting yesterday, the rump Congress also insisted that its dialogue team should be allowed to arrange with UNSMIL the time, place and agenda for talks. It authorised Nuri Abu Sahmain, its president, to negotiate with the head of the UN Special Mission in Libya Bernardino Leon on all its demands.
This, in fact, had already started two days earlier, although nothing was announced. It has emerged that the UNSMIL head flew on Friday to Istanbul for talks with Abu Sahmain, at which, pro-Congress sources have claimed, Leon agreed to move the dialogue from Geneva to Libya.
According to Turkish sources, the talks were “positive”.
In a statement yesterday, UNSMIL said that it “takes note of the proposal to hold the talks in Libya. All participants in the dialogue agree that the priority should be, if the logistical and security conditions are met, to hold the talks in Libya. The mission is consulting with the Libyan stakeholders before the next round of talks to identify an acceptable venue that also provides maximum security to the participants.”
However, the delegates who were in Geneva last week and are currently in Tunis waiting to return to the Swiss city for the second round, say they do not know what is happening.
“We are supposed to be going to Geneva tomorrow to for the second round on Wednesday,” Al-Wafi told the Libya Herald this evening. “We’ve heard rumours of changes. But until now no one has told us anything. I don’t think we will be going.”
He added that they expected to meet with Leon tomorrow in Tunis. He also said that the possibility of going to Ghat had been discussed in Geneva last week but that Leon himself had ruled it out both on security and logistical grounds.
Another reason it may be unsuitable is that it suffering major food and fuel shortages because it is too dangerous to transport such goods into the town.
However, one of the four House of Representatives (HoR) delegates to the talks Saleh Huma, from Timsa, has indicated that, as far as he is concerned, there would be no problem with Ghat. There were no outside militias there, he said, just soldiers supporting the Libyan National Army; he put them at a thousand.
Others, though, say the council firmly supports Congress, not the HoR.
Huma added that wherever the talks, the HoR delegates would not sit in the same room as those from Congress which he called an “illegal” body. [/restrict]