By Sami Zaptia.
London, 9 August 2018:
The International Co-operation and Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives (HoR) has denounced the remarks made by Italy’s ambassador to Libya, Giuseppe Perrone, regarding Libya’s elections.
The HoR Committee, in its statement released yesterday, said Perrone had called insistently for Libya’s planned elections to be postponed and thereby breaking diplomatic protocol as a representative of Italy.
The Committee said it denounced what it considered as the interference in Libyan affairs, in Libyan sovereignty and an insult and infringement on Libyan people’s choices. It called for an apology and said Perrone’s interference will have a negative effect on the current political process and on the Paris agreement (of May 2018).
Furthermore, the HoR Committee considered Perrone persona non grata and called for his replacement. It warned that Perrone’s remarks will cause damage to Italian interests in Libya and that they will lead to the recall of historical and colonialist baggage that Libya is trying to forget.
The HoR statement stressed that Libyan sovereignty and the choices of its people are red lines and called on the UN, as the broker of Libya’s political process, to take a decisive stand on such interference.
It called on all international parties, without exception, to refrain from interfering in internal Libyan affairs.
It also called on the Libyan people to put aside their differences and stand united against external interference.
It will be recalled that during Tuesday’s weekly press conference, Mohamed El Sallak, the official spokesperson for Faiez Serraj, head of the Presidency Council and Government of National Accord,
Stressed that the course and date of Libya’s planned elections were a matter to be decided by Libyans alone.
Sallak went on to convey the emphasis by Serraj and the whole Presidential Council on the responsibility of all Libyan parties concerned with Libya’s elections, and in particular those that had made a commitment to the Paris agreement. Sallak said Serraj requested that the concerned Paris participants abide by their (constitutional) obligations.
Answering follow up questions on the issue, Sallak reiterated and confirmed that Libya welcomes any positive and constructive role by the international community that participates in pushing in the direction of solving the Libyan crisis and assured the importance of the unification and coordination of the Libya efforts of the international community.
He stressed that only the Libyans that were party to the Paris agreement have the will and ability to decide the time of Libya’s elections, adding that no one can stop this process if the Libyan (Paris) parties have the real will (to hold elections).
Sallak added that the parties at Paris alone hold the tools and processes to activate the agreement leading to elections.
Sallak was referring to the heated debate taking place in Libya over perceived comments by Italy’s ambassador to Tripoli, Giuseppe Perrone during a local television interview.
Perrone went on to clarify his comments that Italy was committed to supporting Libya in creating the necessary conditions to hold elections as soon as possible. Adding that a solid constitutional reference is a key condition to making sure that elections help reconciliation and stability.
However, some Libyans interpreted these comments as an attempt to interfere in Libyan affairs and felt it was up to Libyans to decide when the ‘‘necessary conditions’’ for holding elections were right.
The comments by Perrone were also seen in contrast to the perceived desire of France, deemed to be pushing for elections by December this year – as agreed during the Paris meeting in May this year.