By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 6 June 2015
Both Russia and China have blocked a move to sanction two Libyans for obstructing the peace . . .[restrict]process, arguing that more time was needed to consider the implications of the move.
France, Spain, the UK and the USA had proposed to the 15-member committee chaired by Malaysia’s Ramian Ibrahim, that travel bans and asset freezes be imposed on Abdulrahman Sewehli and Othman Milaiqtah. Had there been no objections, the sanctions on the pair would have kicked in yesterday evening.
Sewehli is a boycotting Misrata member of the House of Representatives, to which he was elected last June. He was also a member of the General National Congress and now sits in the rump of the former parliament.
Milaiqtah is the commander of Zintan’s Qaaqaa Brigade but was seriously injured in February 2014, in what his brother Abdulmajid claimed was an assassination attempt but which others claimed was a car smash at Ras Al-Afaa near Aziziya. Either way, it is believed that Milaiqtah is still undergoing treatment abroad, some sources say in Jordan.
According to a Reuters report, the Russians announced they opposed to sanctions on both men because they considered the request had been made in a rush and not thought through properly. They said that the proposal needed “to be considered by relevant agencies of the Russian Federation”.
The Chinese were reported to have said “The political dialogue among all Libyan parties brokered by the UN is at the critical junction. Any measures adopted by the [sanctions] committee should facilitate the current dialogue process. We should be very careful and take more time to consider this issue”.
The talks are indeed at a delicate stage with negotiating teams due to meet again in Skhirat, Morocco on Monday. It is unclear if there was co-ordination between the four states that proposed the Sewehli/Milaiqtah sanctions and UNSMIL chief Bernardino Leon, who is brokering the peace dialogue. The move appeared to be an attempt to be even handed, in that Swehli is a supporter of Libya Dawn whereas Milaiqtah and his brigade appear to be allied with the government and the HoR.