Libya’s Haftar declares UN unity deal ‘thing of the past’

Libya’s Haftar declares UN unity deal ‘thing of the past’
Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar said the political agreement destroyed the country. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 27 April 2020

Libya’s Haftar declares UN unity deal ‘thing of the past’

Libya’s Haftar declares UN unity deal ‘thing of the past’
  • Haftar has not yet dissolved any state institutions
  • He controls most of eastern and southern Libya

CAIRO: Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar on Monday declared a landmark United Nations-brokered agreement to unite the country “a thing of the past,” and pledged his authorities would move toward creating a new government.
“The political agreement destroyed the country,” he said. “We will work to create the conditions for building permanent civic institutions.”
Haftar, commander of Libya’s east-based forces, controls most of eastern and southern Libya. The administration in Tripoli rules just a corner of the country’s west.
While Haftar has not yet dissolved any state institutions, such as the eastern-based House of Representatives, he said his armed forces “accept the people’s mandate to run the country.”
In a speech last week, Haftar asked Libyans to hold demonstrations and give him a mandate to rule. Despite a curfew imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, crowds thronged the streets of Benghazi and chanted slogans against the rival Tripoli administration.
The UN set up the Tripoli-based government, known as the Government of National Accord, in 2015 following the emergence of two rival centers of government — one allied with Haftar in the eastern city of Tobruk and one in Tripoli.
The agreement, frequently condemned by Haftar and his supporters, bestows international legitimacy on a western government under the leadership of technocrat Fayez Sarraj.
It also acknowledges the House of Representatives based in Tobruk as the country’s official legislature and grants consultative powers to the previous parliament based in Tripoli. Both bodies are largely powerless.
The agreement has so far failed to bring unity or stability to the divided country. The abrupt resignation of UN envoy Ghassan Salame earlier this year cast further doubt on the fate of Libya’s hamstrung political process.
Meanwhile, Haftar has ratcheted up his military campaign to seize Tripoli. Both sides have ignored calls by the UN and the West for a cease-fire so authorities can direct resources to the coronavirus pandemic.
In his speech, Haftar said his forces would continue their offensive “until the end.”


UN chief hails progress in Libya talks

UN chief hails progress in Libya talks
Updated 54 min 14 sec ago

UN chief hails progress in Libya talks

UN chief hails progress in Libya talks
  • Breakthrough over selection of executive authority that will shepherd country to elections

NEW YORK: The advisory committee of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) has agreed on a mechanism for selecting the new executive authority, whose formation has been the subject of sparring among the various factions in the war-ravaged country.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended the participants at the UN-brokered talks in Geneva for their “constructive discussions” during their four-day meeting.

The 18-member committee is part of a larger forum that represents all three main regions of Libya.

It has proposed that each region’s electoral body nominate a representative to a three-member presidential council. A prime minister would be chosen by the 75-member forum.

Guterres mentioned in particular “the decisive role played by women representatives and the southern members” in reaching a consensus on a mechanism for the selection of the executive authority, which will shepherd the country to national elections in December, in line with the Tunis Roadmap adopted last November. 

Calling on the members of the LPDF to “participate constructively” in the vote on the selection mechanism, Guterres reiterated the UN’s support for the Libyan people “in their efforts to advance peace and stability.”

Acting Special Representative for Libya Stephanie Williams also hailed the breakthrough at the Geneva talks, at the conclusion of which she told the press that the advisory committee members “had risen to the occasion.”

She added: “They met their responsibility with a constructive spirit, cooperative efforts and a great deal of patriotism. They have taken a decisive step towards meeting the goals that were set in Tunis.”  

Guterres said he was grateful to “the commitment and outstanding leadership” of Williams in moving the political process forward in Libya.

Last week, the Security Council approved Guterres’s nomination of Jan Kubis of Slovakia as his special envoy on Libya and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Kubis had held a similar position in Lebanon and Iraq.

Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Kubis “brings with him many years of experience in diplomacy, foreign security policy and international economic relations, both internationally and in at home in Slovakia.”

Kubis will take up his function in early February. Until then, Williams will continue as acting special representative through January “to ensure a smooth transition.”