Berlin Conference delayed until April 2020, increasing pressure on GNA PM Sarraj
On 21 October, the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Ambassador to Italy, Omar Tarhouni, stated that the planned international conference on Libya to be held in Berlin will occur in April 2020. The precise cause for the delay is unclear, but it does not come as a surprise as international actors and their Libyan allies have been setting competing trajectories for peace, insisting on uncompromising and often unachievable conditions for their attendance, and in some cases seeking new approaches – often requiring the exclusion of others.
In the meantime, Libyan politics are likely to be marked by the development of international tensions within the GNA. Indeed, the main aim of the international conference is to establish a new political process which would likely see the whole GNA structure dismantled, removing Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj source of authority and legitimacy. Internal tensions have already surfaced, with reports that the GNA’s Minister of Interior, Fathi Bashagha, is pushing for a reshuffle of the GNA’s ministerial positions in order to include more Misratan powerbrokers and allies in the international recognised government – and possibly to even supplant PM Sarraj himself.
The delay to the Berlin conference reinforces the assessment that momentum for a peace process in Libya appears to be stalling. This delay is likely to increase pressure on Serraj and his inner circle in the short term, and he will likely be scrambling to find other avenues to retain his hold on power in the coming weeks. Other actors within the GNA and broader anti-Libyan National Army (LNA) coalition are likely to seek to turn this delay to their advantage by using the time to better position themselves politically and strategically in anticipation of the eventual mediation.