UN’s Leon meets with GNC representatives ahead of peace talks

The United Nations Special Envoy to Libya met with representatives of the General National Congress on Thursday and Friday in Algiers in a bid to encourage the rival legislature to rejoin ongoing peace talks. 

Bernardino Leon sat with Nuri Abu Shamain, president of the GNC, whose dialogue representatives walked out of the last and supposedly conclusive round of talks held last month in Morocco.

They disagreed with the wording of the latest draft of the peace agreement, which hopes to build a national unity government. They claimed it gave too much power to the internationally-recognized government and parliament, the House of Representatives.

Previous incarnations of the text introduced a new largely consultative body  – the State Council – that had a say in key state appointments and could veto the decisions made by the HoR, the parliament recognized by the draft. Two thirds of the 120-member State Council was reserved for GNC members, giving the defunct former parliament considerable decision-making abilities.

Under pressure from the internationally-recognized government, Mr Leon, who has hosted all the negotiations, altered the draft to reduce the State Council’s powers, prompting the walkout. The remaining delegation went ahead with signing the agreement without the GNC.

The Italian diplomat is now hoping to win the rival legislature round and encourage them to join a fresh round of talks next week .

The UN hopes to form a one year transitional unity government that will end a 12-month-long civil war and create a joint force to fight the Islamic State group.

Mr Leon was in Zawiya in West Libya in the days leading up to the discussions, a town that is largely loyal to GNC and Libya Dawn, the armed coalition which swept control of Tripoli last summer and formed the rival administration which sparked the civil war.

In a statement released Thursday Mr Leon said the representatives of the town stressed “their full support” of the dialogue process which they said was a “real opportunity to solve the Libyan crisis”.
He said they proposed to clarify any misunderstanding or ambiguity through annexes of the text.

The UN congratulated the town on its local ceasefire and reconciliation efforts.

Also on Thursday the Special Representative released a second statement expressing his “gratitude” to the Algerian authorities for hosting and facilitating the meeting. 

A fresh round of peace talks is expected to start next week.

 

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