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Ghadames dialogue seen as positive: Congress delegates accept Geneva decisions

The UN-brokered dialogue talks between the rival political groups took a significant step forward today with delegates from the continuing General National Congress ending their boycott and attending the latest session, in Ghadames.

However, there were no direct talks. Each group met separately in a Ghadames hotel with UN officials moving between them.

The talks saw the Congress delegates effectively agreeing to the issues already approved by all the other delegates when they met last month in their two meetings in Geneva, according to House of Representatives’ member Abubakr Baira.

These were a government of national unity, confidence-building measures, a ceasefire and disarming the militias.

“The only new element in today’s talks was the participation of the GNC,” he said.

Until now, Congress had taken the view that because it had not attended the two earlier sessions in Geneva, any decisions taken there were null and void.

In addition to endorsing the issues, the Congress delegates are also said to have agreed to attend the next session which, according to former Marj Congress member Sharif Al-Wafi, will take place towards the end of next week, possibly next Thursday.

The location has not been decided, although according to Baira it may well be outside Libya.

That too would be a concession from Congress which until now had insisted that the talks must take place inside the country.

It had also insisted that, as part of its price for attending, the international community accept the Supreme Court’s ruling which, it claims, makes it the only legitimate legislature and that the dialogue involve just its four delegates and four from the HoR.

Both demands have effectively been ignored by the international community and the other Libyan delegates.

Baira was one of those who had threatened not to go to Ghadames because of the presence of those from the GNC, but in the end agreed. “I did not want to ruin the party,” he told the Libya Herald.

Agreeing to go had not been easy, given the GNC’s attempts to impose its position by force, he explained. But Libyans had suffered too much, he said. There needed to be a solution. Even so, “we refused to met them directly,” he stated.

“We split into different groups,” he said, but all with the same agenda and some dozen UN officials acting as go-betweens.

There had also been security questions about Ghadames, he added. “But yesterday [UNSMIL head Bernardino] Leon assured us about it.”

Security, he divulged, had been provided “by about 60 personnel” who were not Libyan. “They were from different nationalities.”

Despite his earlier opposition, he expressed satisfaction and optimism about the dialogue, a view echoed by UNSMIL which, in a statement this evening, said that the talks had been conducted “in a constructive and positive atmosphere”.

Baira’s optimism was based on the belief that the GNC was starting to be realistic. That was because it was “weak”, he said. “It is under great pressure from the UN,” with its leaders faced with UN sanctions. With Misrata and Libya Dawn splitting, he stated, the GNC and Dawn would collapse. “The whole system will disintegrate.”

Sharif Al-Wafi was more cautious in his assessment, of today’s meeting. He did not think it had gone well. The atmosphere had been “tense and difficult”, he said, and the Congress team “not friendly”.

He was not sure how the next session would go.

All the delegates flew back to Tunis this evening with the exception of those from Congress who flew back to Tripoli.

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