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Talks in Geneva mark Congress’s return to the dialogue, but little else

Following the latest round of talks earlier this week, the Libyan Political Dialogue is back on track but tepid reactions suggest it is only moving forward by inches.

United Nations Special Envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon and dialogue members emphasized the “positive atmosphere” reigning during the joint consultations at the UN Office in Geneva on Tuesday and Wednesday that brought together representatives of Libya’s two rival parliaments, as well as political partly leaders. At this stage Leon is linking the different dialogue tracks which he has been leading in parallel over the past months.

The main achievement is the return of the General National Congress to the negotiation table, after it protested the signing of the initial political agreement last month and vowed to boycott further talks. Otherwise, however, the latest consultations appear to have had no concrete outcome.

The parties have agreed to finalize the process within the coming three weeks in order for the political agreement to be formally endorsed and come into effect in early September.

There are still substantial differences to bridge, however, and the GNC is yet to vote on whether it will continue the talks. Leon has indicated that there will be no changes to the core text of the agreement and that all outstanding demands and concerns will be addressed in the annexes.

Incoming talks are in particular meant to address the Government of National Accord, for which both sides are expected to present candidates for the positions of the prime minister, his two deputies, and the ministers.

The UN’s concluding statement did not specify the date of the next meeting but according to boycotting House of Representatives member Mustafa Abushagur, who spoke on Libya Channel’s 9pm Debate on Wednesday, discussions will continue next weekend in the Moroccan town of Skhirat.

Abushagur also claimed the talks had been very positive and that participant from all sides were optimistic. Others were less enthusiastic however. Sharif al-Wafi, one of the independent dialogue members, had boycotted the meeting due to “inadequate communication by UNSMIL” – the UN mission to Libya – as he told Libya Herald.

The Geneva meeting was also overshadowed by the Islamic State Group’s brutal repression of dissent in the central Libyan city of Sirte, as well as Prime Minister Abdallah al-Thinni’s ambiguous resignation late on Tuesday night. Bernardino Leon reassured the public insisting that the resignation – whether or not it was confirmed – would have no effect whatsoever on the dialogue.

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