By Farah Waleed and Michel Cousins.
Tripoli/Geneva, 13 January 2015:
In a surprise move, Misrata Municipal Council has come out firmly in favour . . .[restrict]of tomorrow’s dialogue in Geneva between the various parties to the Libyan crisis. It said the talks between Libya political organisations and social groups society were in the country’s interest.
The statement was issued at the same time as the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) confirmed that the Geneva meeting would go ahead despite yesterday’s decision by the rump Congress yesterday to boycott the proceedings.
Calling on Libyans to reject “terrorism and extremism” and political divisions within Libya, the Misrata declaration is the strongest indication so far of the growing rift within Libya Dawn between it and the Islamists. It is seen as a riposte to Congress’ announcement yesterday that it would not attend Geneva – an announcement widely believed to have resulted from pressure from the more Islamist elements within Libya Dawn. Those elements are strongest within militias in the wider Tripoli area.
The Misratan statement contained a number of conditions for joining the dialogue, such as upholding the principles of the 17 February revolution, respect for the Constitutional Declaration of August 2011, respect of the judiciary in order to build a state of law that respects human rights, and rejection of the former regime and its followers.
Significantly, in its statement today announcing the talks would start tomorrow in Geneva, UNSMIL used almost identical language.
“The talks will be guided by the principles of the 17 February Revolution and democratic values and human rights, respect for the Constitutional Declaration, respect for the legitimacy of State institutions – legislative, executive and the judiciary – and the rejection of terrorism”, it said. This suggests that UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon and Misratan mainstream leaders had already agreed the dialogue and its terms last week and did not expect the rejection by Congress. It is also suggests that Congress will be under intense pressure from Misrata to change its mind.
In it statement today, UNSMIL also said that the talks would pave the way to breaking political deadlock in the country. It added that it was confident that “with determination, patience and perseverance” that “sustainable solutions” to the problems facing Libya would be found, stability restored and country put on the road to prosperity.
“The discussions in Geneva will also seek to put in place the necessary security arrangements for bringing about a total cessation of armed hostilities which have claimed many civilians lives, displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes and resulted in extensive damage to infrastructure and the country’s economy,” it said. “Furthermore, the talks aim to secure a phased withdrawal of all armed groups from all major towns and cities, including Tripoli, and enable the state to reassert its authority over government institutions, strategic installations and other vital facilities.”
It added that dialogue was in national interest, including safeguarding the country’s national unity and territorial integrity but that it was aware that the process would not “satisfy everyone in everything”.
It said that the talks starting tomorrow would be the first in a series. They would involve “a number of political and civil society representatives”. Next week, it said, talks would include representatives from selected municipalities. Thereafter they would be extended “to include political parties, armed groups, as well as tribal and societal leaders”.
Speaking to the Libya Herald in Tunis today before flying to Geneva in the morning, one of those attending the dialogue confirmed that he and his colleagues would fly back via Tunis by Saturday.
Participants attending (according to UNSMIL):
- Emhemed Shoaib (Deputy President of HoR, from Zawia)
- Abubakr Buera (High profile HoR member from Benghazi, very strongly federalist, chaired the first session of the HoR, being promoted by some members as HoR president in place of Ageela Saleh Gwaider)
- Sadiq Idris Mohamed (HoR member from Qasr Ben Gashir)
- Saleh Huma (HoR member from Timsa)
- Mossa El Koni (Tuareg, former member of the NTC)
- Ahmad Al Abbar (former member of the NTC)
- Fathi Bashagha (boycotting member of the HoR for Misrata)
- Na’eem Al Gharyani (boycotting member of the HoR for Gharian)
- Tawfiq Shuhabi (former member of former Congresss for Tobruk and leader of 94 Group. Was spokesman for the National Force Alliance)
- Fawzi Egab (former member of the GNC)
- Naima Gebril (legal adviser from Benghzi; was a member of committee with Sulaimen Zubi that wrote the law setting up the Constitutional Drafting Assembly)
- Nihad Maetig (Civil society activist, and sister of Ahmed Maetig, Congress’ choice to replace Abdullah Al-Thinni as prime minister)
- Fadeel Amin (Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for National Dialogue
- Nuri Elabbar (former head of Higher National Elections Commission)
Participants (members of Congress who are not currently planning to attend):
- Saleh Al Makhzoum (Justice & Construction member for Wadi Ashatti, member of Muslim Brotherhood; Deputy President of Continuing General Nationl Congress):
- Omar Hemidan (Spokesman of Congress, member from Zliten)
- Mohammad Al-Amari (head of the Islamist Wafa block in Congress which includes the the J&C and more radical Islamists; from Benghazi)
- Mohamed Emazab (Congress member from Ajdabiya)
Participants in an advisory/facilitator role who are attending:
- Suleiman Al-Fagieh (boycotting member of the HoR for Misrata)
- Mohamed Abdulaziz (former Foreign Minister)
- Mustafa Abushagour (former Deputy Prime Minister, briefly nominated PM in succession to Abdulrahim Al-Kib, member of HoR for Suq Al-Juma)
- Sherif El-Wafi (former GNC member, one of the leaders of 94 group, was runner up in the GNC presidential elections won by Nuri Abu Sahmain)
Participant in an advisory/facilitator role who is not currently planning to attend:
- Omar Abu Leefa (Member of Congress for Misrata, President of Congress’ Legislative Committee)