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Dialogue delegates meet without GNC team; say they will sign UNSMIL Draft

Despite the absence of the General National Congress (GNC) team from the latest Dialogue meeting in Skhirat, Morocco, all the other delegates have welcomed the newest revised Draft from UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon, and say they will sign it, with or without the GNC.

In a statement issued early this morning, the independents and the House of Representatives team indicated that they would initial the Draft and called on the missing GNC delegates to return to Skhirat and join them before they did so.

“Before initialing the agreement within the coming few days in Skhirat, there is still an opportunity for our brothers [the GNC delegates] to join this consensus and assume an important role in the political process,” the statement read

Those in Skhirat said that they “were able to agree on the text of the Libyan political agreement . . . We are certain that that it will put Libya on the track of the aspired solution”.

Paying tribute to the GNC team for its “important role” to the Dialogue, they said that they were “looking forward” to their return to the Moroccan resort to complete the process.

“We are hoping that their decision in the coming few days will be positive and consistent with the prevailing spirit in the Libyan society that is eager for an agreement, and will steer away from calls for the continuation of war, division and exclusion and that they will shoulder their responsibility before the Libyan people,” the other delegates said.

The full statement is here.  It has been welcomed by the ambassadors and Special Envoys of the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, UK and the USA.

The GNC team abruptly left the Dialogue and returned to Tripoli last Sunday, angry at the amendments to Draft 4, presented a few hours earlier by Leon. He announced that they would return in time for the session being reconvened yesterday.

They are still in Tripoli. In a statement on Wednesday, Omar Hemidan, the GNC spokesman and a member of its Skhirat team, said that it would not go back until possibly next week so that it could meet the full GNC for further consultations.

Reports that the team had been prevented from returning on Wednesday cannot be confirmed. It is reported too that over half the continuing GNC, including most of Justice and Construction Party members, accept the draft but are being intimidated into silence.

Whatever the truth of such allegations, the opposition to the Draft has mobilised to ensure the GNC does not vote in favour. The Dar Al-Ifta has issued a fatwa damning it as contrary to Islam, and Misrata hardliner Salah Badi, together with Congress President Nuri Abu Sahmain and HoR boycotter Abdul-Rauf Al-Manaie, led a demonstration outside the Congress building to protest at it. Manaie has called for the arrest of Leon if he goes again to Tripoli.

The latest draft contains few changes to the one issued last Sunday. The most significant ones again concern the State Council, 90 of whose 120 members will be drawn from those who were elected to the GNC in July 2012.

Although the government will be obliged to include its submissions when presenting legislation to the HoR, it is now spelled out that the HoR can either reject or accept those submissions. Also the HoR merely needs to consult with the Council if the prime minister or deputy prime ministers need to be reappointed; no formal committee with five members from both chambers will be formed to nominate replacements.

Additionally, although the Council headquarters will be in Tripoli, it can meet in any location in Libya it chooses.

The draft also set a new deadline for the Constitutional Drafting Assembly to finish its work: 24 March 2016.

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