By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 13 April 2015:
UNSMIL has begun a busy period of fresh negotiations with meetings in Algiers and Skhirat, . . .[restrict]Morocco and further talks between tribal elders slated to take place in Egypt.
Today, political leaders and activists have begun a second two-day meeting in Algiers, hosted by UNSMIL chief Bernardino Leon. At the last gathering in March there was an even split between representatives of secular and Islamist parties. This gave rise to protests that it did not represent the outcome of last June’s general election in which Islamist parties won only a minority of the seats in the new House of Representatives.
It was noted that one of the participants last time was Abdul-Hakim Belhaj whose Watan Party failed to win any seats at all in the HoR elections despite a massive publicity campaign.
UNSMIL has not yet confirmed that all the invited participants have turned up. There had been reports that Belhaj was going to boycott this fresh round and had called for the talks to be stopped. However a picture from the meeting (above) shows him sitting (fourth from the left) at the opening session. UNSMIL will be seeking to edge delegates beyond their broad agreement last time on the need for “consensual government”, a ceasefire and action to be taken against terrorist groups such as as Ansar al-Sharia, Daesh (IS) and Al-Qaeda.
UNSMIL insists that the Algiers meeting is significant because it considers all the players as having an important role in lobbying their constituencies on behalf of the dialogue and its hoped -or peaceful outcome.
On Wednesday, the main players from the government in Beida and Libya Dawn in Tripoli and Misrata will resume their own negotiations in Skhirat. The tribal talks in Egypt were announced in Algiers at the end of the first encounter in March. Expected to happen then within the week, they have yet to take place.
Last night as politicians and activists gathered in Algiers, the French, German, Italian, Spanish and British foreign ministers joined US Secretary of State John Kerry in issuing a call for an immediate end to air strikes and the ground war. They said further military action was “provocative”, undermined the UNSMIL talks and threatened the chances of reconciliation.
They once again repeated the warning that those deemed to have undermined the dialogue could be subject to UN sanctions.
They added: “Further delay in reaching a political agreement only deepens the schisms in Libyan society and emboldens those who seek to profit from the ongoing conflict”.
The foreign ministers also called for all factions to form a united front against terrorism.
This article has been updated to include the fact that Abdul-Hakim Belhaj did arrive for the opening session.