At the beginning of the week, between October 11th – 13th, 2020, Egypt continued the “Moroccan tradition” by hosting another round of discussions between the rival Libyan parties, the UN-recognised Government of National Accord, and the eastern-based House of Representatives.
The first round of the Cairo talks between the delegations of the House of Representatives (HoR) and the Tripoli-based High Council of State (HCS) ended late on Tuesday. They started discussing the constitutional track on Sunday, according to the UNMSIL. These Cairo talks under the auspices of the UNSMIL, come after the HCS and HoR delegations reached understandings in Bouznika, Morocco, in September, regarding the selection of occupants of Libyan state sovereign positions.
The two delegations of the Tobruk-based the HCS and the HoR agreed to end the transitional phase in Libya and start preparations for a permanent phase of governance. Moreover, the two delegations said in their final statement that they had discussed holding a constitutional referendum and urged the UNSMIL to facilitate an agreement that ensures holding constitutional arrangements that allow activating a comprehensive political agreement.
In the context of the meeting, the delegations also expressed their desire to hold a second round of talks in Cairo, Egypt. They said they wanted to continue the discussion about the constitutional arrangements.
On October 15th, the UN’s Libya envoy urged rival Libyan parties to place the national interest before political ambitions when they meet in November for talks aimed at ending nearly 10 years of civil war. “What we want to see in terms of participation is people who are not there for their own political aspirations, but for their country,” said UN envoy Stephanie Williams, after meeting Tunisian President Kais Saied. Asked whether Haftar or unity government chief Fayez al-Sarraj would be present, she said participants would be able to take part in the condition “that they remove themselves from consideration in high government positions”. This included members of the key Presidential Council, the prime minister’s job, and ministerial posts, she told AFP news agency. Also, the talks are intended to prepare for national elections, she added. Williams stated the participants must provide the written and signed a pledge before completing the travel procedures to Tunisia. This pledge is meant to avoid any conflict of interest and to help in the peaceful transition of power.
The discussions in early November are set to take place in neighboring Tunisia, under the auspices of the UN, bringing together representatives from civil society, tribesmen, political leaders, and members of bodies representing both administrations.
However, before November’s meeting, the UN mission in Libya plans to bring together participants for preparatory video conferences, starting on October 26th. Also, face-to-face talks between delegations of a joint military commission made up of five officers from each side are to be held in Geneva starting on October 19th.
“The permanent phase should be initiated, and that dialogue between the two Councils should continue in order to reach consensus on arrangements that would ensure that the country moves forward.” UNSMIL wrote on Twitter saying that it equally appreciates the efforts of both delegations. In addition, UNSMIL hoped that this would facilitate discussions on constitutional arrangements during the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum and contribute to paving the way towards a political settlement. UNSMIL expressed its gratitude to the Government of Egypt for hosting this important event.
On October 14th, Al-Arabiya Al-Hadath TV reported that the factions that took part in the Libyan talks in Egypt have returned to Libya to discuss the agreed points with their respective authorities. Earlier, the head of the Libyan Revival Bloc, Aref al-Nayed, suggested to the Secretary-General of the UN to return to the only source of legitimacy, which is the sovereign choice of the Libyan people, according to the principle of guaranteed self-determination defined by the General Charter of the UN. Nayed clarified that holding presidential or parliamentary elections, which is a necessary right for the Libyan people, can only be achieved through a solid constitutional basis agreed upon by the Libyan people.
In his letter to Guterres, Nayed suggested the UN organize a comprehensive national referendum to avoid serious disputes and divisions because there is no consensus on such a constitutional basis at the present moment. He pointed out that this Libyan constitutional referendum will allow citizens to choose one of five Libyan founding documents, namely the 1951 constitution, the amended 1951 constitution in 1963, the declaration of the establishment of the people’s authority in 1977, the constitutional declaration of 2011 with the decisions of the February Committee and Resolution 5 of 2014, and the draft constituent body for drafting the 2017 constitution.
As a reaction to the round of discussions, the Permanent Representative of Libya to the UN, Taher Al-Sunni, stated that the abundance of national dialogue without force is far better than the existence of various fighting front lines and axes in the country. In a tweet, Al-Sunni expressed his sincere hope that the ongoing dialogue would be not only national but uniform and non-destructive at best, without dictations.
Following the Egyptian-held discussions between the rivals, the military leaders of the GNA asked to be included in the upcoming Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), signaling another division in the government led by Fayez al-Sarraj. They indicated that the dialogue should determine the terms for presidential and parliamentary elections, as stipulated by a UN Security Council resolution. In its statement, the group accused the commander of the joint operations room of GNA forces, and the health and finance ministries, of neglecting the rights of the fighters, who fought the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Tripoli last year.
Meanwhile, the commander of the Sirte-al-Jufra Operation Room, Ibrahim Bait al-Mal, confirmed the military leaders asked to be represented in the political dialogue. They rejected the recent Morocco talks between the HoR and the HCS, for failing to coordinate with them.