By Libya Herald reporter.
Tunis, 18 September 2016:
Well of a thousand delegates (some of those attending put the figure at 2,000) from across Libya, meeting in Nalut, have agreed that the use of force should be limited to the military and police. They also called for all Libyans abroad to be allowed to return home. A number of committee were set up to continue the conference’s initial work on national reconciliation .
The meeting, which had no foreign or UNSMIL backing or presence, was the biggest reconciliation effort to occur so far since the collapse of central authority in mid 2014. It was organised primarily by Nalut and Zintan municipalities but also had the support of the House of Representatives and the Libyan National Army in the east, but not of the Presidency Council (PC). The PC’s defence minister, Mahdi Al-Barghathi, reportedly ordered it not to take place. Khalifa Hafter, on the other hand, authorised the use of a military plane to fly 150 prominent figures from the east.
There were members of the House of Representatives and delegates from all the tribes in the south, west and east, including the Barasa, Obeidat, Hassa, Drissa, and Magharba, from the Amazigh, Tebu and Tuareg communities and from almost every town and city –although the town of Rahibat, between Nalut and Zintan, has since complained that it never received an invitation. Attendees included at least one member member of the Senussi royal family, Idris Abdullah Abed Al-Senussi. There was also a group of Qaddafi loyalists who like several of the others had crossed from Tunisia via the Wazen-Dahiba border point. Local residents offered accommodation to the visitors although such were the numbers that many had to sleep in local schools and other institutions.
There was initial disagreement on Friday at the first meeting which took place in the main mosque when the group of some 20 Qaddafi loyalists said they would not accept the use of the independence flag and anthem. In response, Misratan and other delegates said that if they were not used they would leave. This was resolved when the organisers said that because they were meeting in a mosque there would be no flags and no anthem. On Saturday, however, it was made clear to the Qaddafi loyalists, most of whom had travelled from Egypt, that the independence anthem and flag were a red line and there could be no discussion on the matter.
They appear to have accepted this.
They were a number of other disagreements during Friday and the main meeting on Saturday but “there was a willingness to find solutions to Libya’s problems” as one prominent attendee put it, while requesting anonymity. It was “very positive”, he said, noting the example that both Misratan and Tawerghan delegates had used the gathering to confirm their recent peace deal.
However, he and others who returned to Tunis last night expressed disappointment that at no one from UNSMIL had attended.