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Ben Sutherland;

GNC changes mind and agrees to attend Geneva Dialogue talks; appoints new team leader

In a sudden further twist to its on-off relationship with the UN-brokered dialogue, the continuing General National Congress has agreed to turn up to tomorrow’s talks in Geneva, appointing its first deputy president, Awad Abdul Saddeq, as the new head of its four-man negotiating team.

He replaces Salah Makhzoum, the GNC’s second deputy president, whoresigned a week ago amid reports of row between him and GNC President Nuri Abu Sahmain over whether the GNC should end its boycott of the Dialogue. It pulled out at the end of June objecting to parts of the Draft agreement subsequently approved in mid-July by all the other delegates.

Only yesterday, Tuesday, at talks in Istanbul between Leon and Abu Sahmain, the General National Congress was still threatening to continue it boycott. The talks were described by diplomats in attendance as “negative” and the 33 other GNC members accompanying Abu Sahmain as “hardliners”.

Some GNC members are said to have said that if Leon did not accept their amendments to the Draft they would continue to shun the Dialogue until mid-October at which point, with the House of Representatives’ term having expired, they would call for fresh elections.

There has been no announcement on who will replace Mohamed Emazab another member of the GNC team who resigned the day after Makhzoum. There are reports, however, that Abdul Saddeq is being allowed to chose his own team rather than wait for the GNC to approve any other members.

The latest Geneva round is due to finalise agreement on the State Council and proposed amendments to the Constitutional Declaration which would enable the HoR to prolong its life beyond 21 October. The talks are also expected to discuss names for the prime minister and the two deputy prime ministers.

The HoR yesterday sent Leon a list of 12 names for the premiership and one of the two deputy premiers. The GNC is supposed to supply suggestions for the other deputy premier.

Meanwhile in a separate development Makhzoum has firmly denied an Algerian press report that he had been working with Moroccan intelligence.

In a statement published by the GNC, he said that allegations of involvement with Moroccan intelligence against Algeria were completely baseless and that he had started legal proceedings against the paper involved.

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