By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli/Tunis, 2 November 2015:
The UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon has proposed that the planned Presidency Council to govern . . .[restrict]Libya until a new constitution is in place should be increased from six to nine members. He has suggested three from each of the country’s historic regions of Tripolitania in the west, Cyrenaica in the east and Fezzan in the south.
The latest proposal is designed to address concerns in eastern Libya and in the House of Representatives (HoR) that the Presidency Council named by Leon last month is dominated by the west of the country, in particular Misrata. Three of the current six members are from Tripolitania, two from Cyrenaica and one from Fezzan.
Originally, the Libya Dialogue plan was that the Presidency Council would consist of five members – the prime minister, two deputy prime ministers and two other ministers. It was increased by Leon to six last month when he added a third deputy prime minister and allocated one deputy to each of the three regions.
This was rejected by the HoR which insisted that the Presidency Council remain at five members, with just two deputy premiers.
In a statement today confirming the change, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said that the focus of negotiations was now on the “the configuration of the Presidency Council, especially those related to fair and adequate representation for the east, more specifically Benghazi”.
According to the statement, a the latest plan envisages five deputy prime ministers and three senior ministers in the presidency council, plus the prime minister.
The Libya Herald has meanwhile been told by diplomats involved in the Dialogue process that it is unlikely that there will be any more negotiations at Skhirat in Morocco. That is because there would be no more discussions on the Draft agreement. The text was now final, they insisted.
Today’s UNSMIL statement appears to confirm this. It notes that “immediately after the conclusion of the Libyan Political Dialogue, UNSMIL transmitted on 11 October the Libyan Political Agreement to the main political stakeholders for their endorsement”.
Leon, who is due to brief the UN Security Council in New York in person on Thursday, is waiting to see if the HoR now accepts the proposal. He is said to have put it last week to HoR President Ageela Salah Gwaider while the two were in Cairo. It was supposed to be discussed at today’s HoR session in Tobruk but in the event HoR members decided to postpone the meeting until tomorrow.
“We want more time to think about it,” one HoR member told this newspaper this evening, adding that the way things were going “soon everyone in Libya will be a deputy prime minister”.
If the HoR does accept the proposal, one of the diplomats said, the UN would then organise an endorsement ceremony effectively handing power to the Government of National Accord (GNA). However, everything would depend on the names of the three new presidency members, he added. They would have to be acceptable to the HoR, he said.
So far no names have been proposed.
Despite the HoR’s insistence till now on just two deputy premiers, the issue now is not expected to be a matter of numbers but who the three new people are. According to one of the diplomats, the new names have to be acceptable to the HoR.
However, there are now concerns that the latest alteration could trigger demands for even more changes. The new configuration would mean one extra Presidency Council member from Cyrenaica and two from Fezzan, but Leon is said to want one of the Fezzan members to also be a member of Libya’s biggest tribe, the Warfala.
This could lead to demands from other tribes for places on the council.
As to the GNC’s view, there was no indication from the diplomats whether Leon would wait for its endorsement of the changes or of the GNA. It still demands major changes to the basic agreement, although there is a significant number of GNC members who want to accept it as it stands. A group of them, led by the GNC’s deputy president Awad Abdul Sadiq, were reported to have met attending HoR members yesterday, Sunday, in Tripoli.
Last week Sidra HoR member Saleh Fhaima came out strongly in support of direct GNC-HoR talks given that the Dialogue process appeared to be floundering. [/restrict]