Libya’s internationally recognized parliament has rejected the latest draft of the UN peace deal but wants to continue the dialogue, House President Agila Saleh Gweider told Libya Channel in a late-night interview on Wednesday.
During the House of Representative’s Monday session an internal proposal was circulated to reject the latest draft agreement and the unity government which UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon had presented to the warring factions on October 8. The proposal was approved with an “absolute majority” through a show of hands, Gweider told. This did not constitute a vote according to the HoR’s internal procedures but only a “consensus” formed through “consultations” among members of the house, he explained.
Gweider justified the decision of not holding of formal vote, article by article, saying that this would have provoked a split between east and west Libya. Eastern Libyan MPs disapproved a last-minute decision that was made on October 8 to appoint a third deputy prime minister.
News anchor Faten Allamie tried to pin the HoR President down on the issue during the interview, but he refused to say whether Monday’s decision was the HoR’s official position. The issue of whether a vote took place and whether this was the HoR’s final word on the matter has been much debated over the past days as conflicting claims emerged from the HoR after the Monday session concluded. Lawmakers accused different parliamentary groups of preventing a vote in fear of the outcome.
Dismissing the alleged fracture within the HoR, Gweider said there were no blocks in the legislature, only parliamentarians from the country’s three provinces.
According to Gweider, HoR members were not objecting to specific names proposed for the unity government but to the composition of the future presidential council, which will consist of the prime minister, his deputies and two additional ministers. He said the presidential council should reflect Libya’s historical division’s of Tripolitania, Cyranaica and Fezzan, and that the prime minister and two deputies should represent these three provinces, with no need for a third deputy.
While insisting on these objections, the HoR President said that lawmakers were not shaken in their commitment to the national dialogue as basis for solving the crisis in Libya. “We are not closing the door to dialogue”, he emphasized.
The HoR is supposed to meet again on Monday to resume the discussion and select the members of a new dialogue team to replace those who have so far led the talks.
Despite the setback in Tobruk, UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon signalled the UN’s continued commitment to the Libyan peace talks, which he insists would continue.
“The process will go on and there is no chance for small groups or personalities to hijack [it]”, he said in a press conference in Tunis earlier on Wednesday, reiterating that dialogue was the only solution to end the Libyan conflict.
Leon acknowledged the apparent refusal of his proposal by the HoR but said he believed this did not reflect the overall view of the HoR. “[The session was] followed by a statement signed by what seems to be a majority of the members insisting that there was no proper vote and that was no proper decision taken by the House of Representatives on the agreement”, Leon said.
In his speech, Leon also responded to critics in Libya who said he influenced the peace talks too strongly and imposed his views on the dialogue parties.
“This is a Libyan-owned process”, he insisted.”This is not the United Nations bringing [a] solution for the Libyans. If this was the case, in two or three weeks the international community could have put on the table a text,” he added.
Leon said the process had been very inclusive through the participation of different components of society, and that all dialogue participants had taken part in elaborating the proposals.
Despite the dragged-out peace process, Leon said that there was “unprecedented support” from the international community, which he described as “a very important asset”.
Asked about whether he still recognized the HoR as legitimate parliament after the expiration of its initial mandate on October 20, Leon said that Libya was “in a kind of limbo” but that recognition could simply not be attributed by the UN but was defined in Libya’s international relations.