By Sami Zaptia.
London, 13 January 2017:
The Libya Political Dialogue committee is set to meet in Tunis next week having failed to meet in Ghadames last Wednesday.
The meeting was confirmed by a number of delegates who had arrived at Ghadames airport only to be informed that the Ghadames meeting was postponed.
Nevertheless, undeterred, committee members who had made the trip held a meeting at Ghadames airport where they reached agreement on three main points.
They agreed to meet in Tunis next Wednesday 18 January; they set an agenda for that meeting; and they agreed that the Tunis meeting would be a Libyan-Libyan meeting only.
It was also revealed that five new House of Representatives (HoR) members had joined the Dialogue committee in order ‘‘to reflect all views within the HoR’’.
The Tunis agenda includes a return to the 1+2 formula of one President of the Presidency Council (PC) and two deputies, with the prime minister to be chosen from outside the PC. The issue of the Supreme Commander of the Army is also on the agenda for review. The make-up of the High State Council will also be reviewed.
It will be recalled that the Dialogue committee, minus any foreign presence, had planned to meet in the Libyan town of Ghadames, but amid confusion, suspicion and recrimination – the meeting was ‘‘postponed’’ by Ghadames Municipality.
The Municipality claimed that they did not know about the planned meeting, claiming that “The first we heard about it was when we read about it in the media” a municipal official was quoted as saying.
There appear, however, to have been deeper issues behind a meeting which was supposed to allow the Dialogue members to dicuss away from Tunis without the normal attendance of UNSMIL people and foreign diplomats.
One Dialogue member had told the Libya Herald that some colleagues had decided not to go because they wanted first to see what amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement the House of Representatives would propose when it next meets on Monday.
The member had added: “There were also several reservations about the Ghadames meeting, including who had called it and who was paying for it. Was there a hidden agenda behind it?”
There was a suspicion that the Ghadames council did in fact know of the planned meeting. However, councilors had avoided preparing for it because they did not wish to be connected with anything that undermined the Dialogue and the Libyan Political Agreement. Others believe that Serraj and his PC/GNA scuppered the meeting. UNSMIL had no comment on the news from Ghadames.
It is ironic that the attempt by the Dialogue committee to meet inside Libya was defeated by Ghadames Municipality as Libyans are continually requesting that important meetings about Libya should be held within Libya. Unfortunately, the meeting has had to be transferred to Tunis.
Equally, it is still unclear if this attempt to hold a Libyan-Libyan Political Dialogue meeting – without the UN and other foreign observers – will succeed and if any of its decisions will be deemed as binding.