By Libya Herald staff.
Tunis, 30 April 2015:
Deep divisions over the UNMIL’s latest peace draft became abundantly clear today when delegates to the . . .[restrict]UN-brokered dialogue met EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini in Tunis. Those from the House of Representatives (HoR) and others supporting it expressed strong approval for the draft. A smaller contingent, from Misrata, were bitterly opposed.
The delegation from the General National Congress (GNC), which has already rejected the draft, did not even turn up, despite being invited.
They reportedly sent a message saying that they needed more time to study the draft presented by UNSMIL chief Bernardino Leon on Monday, although they have also said they are committed to staying with the process. According to one of the delegates in Tunis, such is the opposition at present in the capital to the draft and the dialogue, the GNC contingent feared they would be labeled traitors if they headed to Tunis.
According to Abubakr Buera, one of the HoR delgates, the House “broadly accepts” the third Draft, which recognises its legitimacy and its role as the country’s interim parliament. All that was needed were “minor changes”. One, he said, was that the proposed Supreme Council of State should be renamed as the “State Council”. The HoR did not like the inference that the council was supreme. Otherwise, his fellow members were happy to run with the proposal.
Boycotting HoR member from Misrata Fathi Bashagha, however, told the Libya Herald that the draft was totally unacceptable and claimed that it bore no resemblance to what had ben discussed at Skhirat in Morocco. He was shocked at it and accused Leon of producing by himself.
Fellow Misrata boycotting HoR member, Mohamed Raied, who is not one of the Dialogue participants but who is in Tunis along with a substantial Misratan team, likewise rejected the draft outright. “We do not accept it. It must be changed.”
Mogherini’s flying visit was billed as focusing on the illegal migrant crisis and the rising threat of terrorism, as well as potential EU help for Libya. But in the event, the meeting, attended by US Ambassador Deborah Jones and the representatives of almost all the EU ambassadors to Libya including the UK’s Michael Aron and France’s Antoine Sivan, focused on UNSMIL’s third draft.
“Mrs Mogherini expressed the EU’s full support for the dialogue,” Buera, said, “and she stressed that we should finish the work before Ramadan, before the end of May”.
The meeting was, by all accounts, a lively first session.
Buera commented afterwards about the position taken by Bashagha and those opposed to the draft: “He was there during all the negotiations. He listened to all these recommendations. He never rejected them before, so why does he reject them now? We don’t see any good basis for their rejection except to derail or spoil the whole process”.
UNSMIL chief Bernadino Leon did not take part in today’s discussions although he had his own earlier meeting with Mogherini in the same Concorde Hotel as the Dialogue delegates, having travelled to Tunis from New York where yesterday he briefed the UN Security Council on Libya