By Sami Zaptia.
London, 30 April 2020:
The internationally recognized government of Libya, based in Tripoli and led by Faiez Serraj, continued its outreach with an olive branch to House of Representatives (HoR) members still aligned with HoR head Ageela Saleh and Khalifa Hafter.
In a thinly disguised effort to encourage them to turn, through an Interior Ministry statement, Tripoli assured HoR members that it would provide them with personal security should they choose to abandon Saleh and Hafter and join the smaller breakaway group based in Tripoli.
It will be recalled that the internationally and Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) recognized HoR is led by Saleh and is based in eastern Libya while a breakaway group of members opposed to Hafter’s war on Tripoli and made up of mainly western based members, broke away and started to meet in Tripoli as an alternative or as the legitimate HoR.
The offer by the Tripoli Interior Ministry comes on the back Hafter’s unilateral revocation of the 2015 Skhirat LPA and in effect announcing himself military ruler of Libya last week. The announcement contradicted Saleh’s announced 8-point political reform plan on the same day that works within the LPA.
In its statement last Monday denouncing rejecting Hafter’s unilateral LPA revocation, the Tripoli government had offered an olive branch to eastern-based HoR members. It said ‘‘In this context, we appeal to all members of the House of Representatives to join their colleagues in Tripoli, to start a comprehensive dialogue and to continue the democratic process to reach a comprehensive and lasting solution through the ballot box’’. Tripoli hopes Hafter’s rejection of the democratic political process that elected the HoR in 2014 would encourage HoR members to make an existensial decision and join their Tripoli breakaway caucus.
If a sizeable group of now eastern-based HoR members were indeed to cross over politically and geographically to Tripoli, it would totally undermine the position of Ageela Saleh as the internationally recognized head of the HoR, and further undermine the already eroded legitimacy of the eastern-based HoR. It would also undermine the modicum of legitimacy of Khalifa Hafter and his LNA – as Hafter was appointed commander of the LNA by Ageela Saleh in his role as head of the HoR.
In its statement, the Tripoli Interior Ministry praised the statement issued by the breakaway HoR members gathered in Tripoli on Tuesday and called on “all deputies to join the House of Representatives held in the capital Tripoli, the capital of all Libyans, to participate in the drafting of a project that ends the political divide and addresses all differences between all political partners, at home and achieves the aspirations of the Libyan people in establishing a civil and democratic state.”
The Ministry welcomed “all political initiatives that support the LPA, and preserve the unity of Libyan territory,” stressing that all its components are ready to provide security protection to all HoR members without exception, which brings us together now in the interest of the nation and that what happens to them affects us”.
It will be recalled that breakaway HoR members meeting in Tripoli on Tuesday had rejected Hafter’s unilateral revokation of the LPA, calling on the international community and the UN mission to take firm action against “crimes that have targeted innocent people and threatened the country’s community peace.”
The breakaway HoR members gathered in Tripoli had also called on their colleagues to join them in the capital to “participate in the formulation of a national project that achieves the aspirations of all Libyans” and addresses all differences between political partners in the country, believing that it must remain united, safe and stable”.