“Our job is done” – United Nations present final Libya peace agreement

Libya Channel with Reuters

The United Nations handed Libya’s warring factions a final draft of a peace accord to end their conflict, telling the factions the UN work was over and they must take the deal or leave it.

Speaking at the negotiations in Morocco, UN envoy Bernardino Leon told representatives from both sides the agreement was not up for negotiation, and those who rejected it were “choosing uncertainty”.

“We have now a text that is the final text. So, our part of the process is now finished,” he said flanked by western diplomats in the Moroccan City of Skhirat.

“It is up to the parties, up to the participants in the dialogue to react to this text, but not in terms of adding more comments or getting back with something to negotiate,” he added.

“They can reject this proposal. But in this case they will also be choosing the uncertainty… and, of course, putting this country in a very difficult position,” he told. 

The UN-backed deal has dragged on for months, interrupted by walk outs and boycotts from delegates representing both the internationally-recognized government and a rival administration that rules Tripoli.

Ongoing fighting between forces loyal to both sides has complicated the process, which aims to end a year-long civil war that has seen the country split in two.

Western powers want the UN deal to resolve the conflict that has allowed Islamist militants to gain ground in the chaos and smugglers to profit by shipping migrants and asylum seekers from Libya’s coast to Europe.

Leon initially set a deadline for September 20 for signing the document – which lays out a blueprint for a National Unity Government, that brings the warring factions together.

He told reporters on Monday that he hoped both sides would now return to reach a final agreement after the Eid Al-Adha celebrations this week and before October 20, when the mandate of the elected parliament ends.

“What is the alternative? And this is the real warning. This is what all Libyans should now discuss, and we hope that there will be a wide debate…We cannot continue to negotiate forever,” Leon said.

The main point of contention had been over the mandate of the State Council – an advisory body whose membership was reserved for members of the rival parliament the General National Congress.

The GNC, the country’s former legislature, was resurrected by Libya Dawn the armed coalition that took over Tripoli last summer sparking the crisis. In previous drafts of the document the State Council was given powers of veto over the recognised parliament the House of Representatives and the right to participate in election of key state appointments angering the HoR.

There were still questions raised about the annexes of the peace deal -which includes details about the State Council and also names of political figures who would lead the joint government.  Leon on Monday assured that main body of the text was “final” but that Annex 1 suggesting names of the Presidential Council of the Government, “still has to be decided” when parties return after Eid.

“This annex No. 1 still has to be completed and this is the moment in which there will be a comprehensive package,” he concluded.

Libya has fragmented into two loose rival alliances of former rebels who once fought former leader Muammar Gaddafi together but steadily turned against one another in the early years after the 2011 revolution in a battle for control.

Since last year, Tripoli has been controlled by Libya Dawn, an alliance of Islamist-leaning former rebels and a powerful armed faction from the city of Misrata that set up a self-declared government and parliament in the capital.

The internationally recognized government and elected parliament has worked out of the east of the country since its armed allies were driven out of the capital. It is backed by a former Gaddafi ally General Khalifa Haftar and a loose formation of other armed groups.

Hardliners from both sides have resisted the peace talks, hoping they can gain more from conflict. But the UN deal calls for a one-year united national government, with the current elected parliament as the legislature, and another chamber as a consultative body.

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