By Sami Zaptia.
London, 25 July 2018:
Boycotting Presidency Council member for the eastern Libyan region of Barqa (Cyrenaica), Ali Gatrani announced in a statement yesterday that tomorrows planned meeting of all of the region’s leading political, tribal and social representatives has been cancelled.
Gatrani said that he continues to make his demands for the rights of his region on all fronts such as the equitable distribution of Libya’s wealth since the start of Skhirat (Libyan Political Agreement) and the start of the Presidency Council, which he says, has no independent decision-making ability as a result of being under the control of the armed militias in Tripoli.
Nevertheless, he said that his political positions shall not be taken advantage of for the achievement of ‘‘personal interests, gains and agendas’’ which he is not party to.
He added that the national Libyan and regional Barqa interest were always his main motivation in the past and in the future for his political actions (boycotting the Presidency Council). Gatrani added that the nation ‘’was not divisible’’.
It is for these reasons that he announced that tomorrows grand political meeting is cancelled.
It will be recalled that on Monday (23 July) Ali Gatrani together with fellow easterner and boycotting Presidency Council member Fathi Majbri announced the withdrawal of their region from the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA).
The LPA, signed in December 2015 in the Moroccan city of Skhirat, is the only internationally recognized political road map for Libya. It was hammered out after the 2014 Tripoli militia coup caused a split in Libya. The LPA was seen as an interim compromise ‘‘Government of National Accord’’ until Libya’s constitution was agreed, and full elections were held.
In Monday’s televised announcement and in their joint written statement, Gatrani and Majbri said that in light of the political scene, the (political) blockage now taking place and the domination and control of militias in the capital Tripoli, ‘‘we affirm that the province of Barqa (Cyrenaica) is now outside the (Libyan) Political Agreement”.
The two then invited members of the House of Representatives representing the eastern region, tribal elders, civil society institutions and activists to meet next Thursday (26 July) in Benghazi to make decisions regarding the Political Agreement and the rights of “the region of Barqa”.
The emergency regional meeting, the statement said, will be devoted to discussing the latest developments in the political scene, the withdrawal of Barqa from the Presidential Council, and the benefits and positions that should to be taken, both nationally and regionally.
The move come on the back of Majbri announcing the suspension of his membership from the Tripoli-based Presidency Council and Government of National Accord on 18 July. Gatrani had already withdrawn from the PC/GNA.
Majbri’s suspension, in turn, came on the back of an armed attack by unknown militias on his Tripoli home at the end of June. Majbri had complained that the Faiez Serraj Tripoli-based Presidency Council and its designated Government of National Accord was unwilling or unable to investigate the militias that had attacked his Tripoli home. He claimed Tripoli was dominated by a ”militia cartel” and that security sector reform of the militias – as prescribed by the LPA – was not being seriously implemented by the Tripoli regime.
The announcement by Gatrani and Majbri could have serious implications on the political future of Libya. The LPA is seen as the only political framework for Libya by the international community. It was brokered by the UN and is backed by a UN Security Council resolution.
The LPA is also recognized by the May Paris Agreement in which all the conflicting parties agreed on approving the draft constitution and on holding elections in December 2018. A withdrawal by the two main PC/GNA members for the east from the LPA would undermine this plan and make elections in 2018 – which were becoming even more unlikely by the day – even more less likely after Majbri’s boycott of the Presidency Council.
In announcing the cancellation of tomorrow’s meeting, Gatrani would only say he did not want his political actions to be taken advantage of, stressing that Libya was ‘‘indivisible’’. This has led to speculation that the Cyrenaica Fedralsts or Sepratists were planning to use the occasion for splitting from Libya.
On the other hand, it was noted that neither Ageela Saleh, the head of the House of Representatives nor Khalifa Hafter had publicly welcomes or supported tomorrow’s grand Cyrenaica meeting. There is suspicion that Gatrani and Majbri failed to gather enough support, finding a sizeable split in eastern public opinion.