Delegates from both the House of Representatives (HoR) and the General National Congress (GNC) at the UN-brokered talks in Morocco met together for the first time today before breaking off to return to Libya and consult their colleagues on the framework for a government of national unity.
They are supposed to return to the seaside resort of Skhirat, south of Rabat next Wednesday, with an endorsement from both bodies on the priorities for the planned government as well as rules on who can serve as prime minister.
Among the principles that the dialogue delegates want both the HoR and the GNC to agree, according to one of the those at the talks, Sharif Al-Wafi, are that the prime minister cannot have duel nationality. Also, he must not be linked to any political grouping or come from any city or place that has been party to the current crisis.
This would, in theory, rule out anyone connected to the Muslim Brotherhood or come from Misrata, Zintan, Zawia, Wareshfana and probably Gharian, Janzour and Suq Al-Juma as well.
Other principles that the delegates want the HoR and GNC to agree are that the cabinet should be small in number and that security be its main priority, Al-Wafi told the Libya Herald. In particular, at the top of the government’s agenda would be removing the militias from the cities and weapons collected in. The reopening of airports, sea port and border crossings would be another priority.
Despite reports that the GNC team were pushing for either former National Transitional Council member Ahmed Al-Abbar or former Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abudhagar for the post of Prime Minister, no candidates’ names were mentioned in today’s talks, Al-Wafi said.
Both Al-Abbar and Abushagur are themselves dialogue delegates.
The GNC is supposed to next meet on Sunday and the HoR on Monday, at which point they could theoretically agree the demands from the dialogue delegates. However, Al-Wafi said although the two bodies’ delegates had agreed to be back in Morocco next Wednesday, he doubted they would.
Part of the problem is that reports of the GNC’s suggestions for prime minister have infuriated members of the HoR who, it is said, fear that the UN is sympathetic to the Tripoli-based body and intends to order it to accept a government of its chosing. In Tobruk, Benghazi member Ziyad Daghim announced on Dawliya TV this evening that he and 20 other members had met and demanded that the HoR withdraw from the dialogue. He claimed that points of agreement reached between the HoR and UN Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon earlier this week when Leon was in Tobruk had been dropped in Morocco.
Prominent HoR member Tariq Geroushi, also from Benghazi, similarly claimed on his Facebook page that the Leon was planning to impose a national unity government on Libya and asked whether the dialogue should now be abandoned.
Meanwhile, on Al-Arabiya TV, two of the HoR delegates in Skhirat, the tough-speaking Abubakr Baira, from Benghazi as well, and Saleh Huma from Timsa also threatened that they would pull out of the talks.
The HoR anger is, however, seen by some as temporary.
“It will be OK, but not yet,” said Al-Wafi who himself had threatened to boycott the dialogue after the Guba bombings.
The fact that both the HoR and GNC put their rivalries aside and agreed to meet together today is nonetheless seen as something of a major breakthrough. In a statement, UNSMIL said that “important progress has been made so far in the talks” while UN Special Envoy to Libya Benardino Leon who has been chairing all the dialogue talks said that the meeting of all the delegates, although not part of the talks, was important. He called it symbolic, noting that “symbols count”.
The credit is being given to Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar, who asked to meet and address all the delegates together – a request they found difficult to refuse. He assured them that Morocco would do everything it could to help solve the crisis in Libya.
The HoR and GNC delegates have now headed back to their respective bodies to report. Some of the other delegates are reported to be staying in Morocco for the next round.