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Congress says No to Geneva now, but maybe next Sunday

The continuing General National Congress has thrown the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva into doubt with an announcement that it would not be joining in. It said that it might reconsider its decision next Sunday.

The talks are due to begin on Wednesday, and it was hoped that they would be over by the weekend.

The decision was taken by the GNC at a meeting this morning. Speaking at a press conference afterwards, Saleh Makhzoum, the deputy president who was supposed to lead the GNC’s delegation, claimed that it was impossible to go to Geneva “while civilians are being bombed in Misratra” and that the GNC had to know in advance what the agenda was and who else was going to be there.

“We not reject dialogue,” he said, “but we want to know the parties involved and the items that will be [on the agenda] to resolve the crisis”.

The objection to attending, he stated, was partly the result of discovering the identities of some of those who had been invited by UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon.

He did not name names, however, the member of the GNC Political Affairs Committee, Abdul Qader Omar Mohamed Ehwaili, has been quoted saying that, in particular, his colleagues objected to the presence of former Congressmen Tawfiq Shahibi, a member of the National Forces Alliance from Tobruk, and Sherif El-Wafi, who is from Marj. Both were members of 94 Group which latterly boycotted Congress.

Ehwaili also indicated Congress’ annoyance at not having been given in advance a list of all those attending for it to vet. Another member alleged that others invited to Geneva were wanted by local and international justice – he not mention whom – and that if they attended, the GNC would not.

Makhzoum further claimed that the UN had rushed to set a time and place for the talks. “We noticed haste and confusion in order to go to Geneva without prior planning,” he said. “We would have preferred to take the time to call for dialogue, and agree on the mechanisms.”

Similarly complaining about being rushed in the talks, Congress spokesman Omar Hemidan, also selected as a GNC delegate to Geneva, likewise said it would not be pressurised into going.

It would, however, reassess the situation next Sunday, he said, ignoring the fact that they are meant to begin on Wednesday.

In fact, the main pressure on Congress is believed to have come from hardliners in Libya Dawn not to participate. There are powerful voices within the movement which think they are winning on the ground and that dialogue is a waste of time. Others are ideologically opposed to negotiating with anyone who opposes them.

A member of Congress acknowledged this last week, saying that it would try over the weekend to persuade those against dialogue to give it a chance.

There were already concerns about the chances of the Geneva talks succeeding when it was disclosed last week that the Congress delegates would not sit in the same room as those from the House of Representatives (HoR) and that others would carry out indirect negotiations between them.

In addition to Makhzoum and Hemidan, Congress’ other two delegates are Mohamed Al-Amari from Benghazi and Mohamed Emazab from Ajdabiya, both said to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The four members of the HoR who have been invited to Geneva are First Deputy President Imhemed Shoaib, Abubakr Buera, Abdullah Idris and Hamid Huma. They are currently in Tunis, en route to Geneva, along with Shahibi and El-Wafi.

Article by Farah Waleed, Libya Herald.

This article was originally published here.

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