New hopes for a unification deal at Palermo on 12-13 November
Preparations are underway by local and national actors to secure a place in the upcoming Libya reconciliation conference to be hosted by Italy in the Sicilian city of Palermo on 12-13 November. The principal leaders of Libyan political and military institutions are expected to be at the table including Fayez al-Serraj, Khalifa Haftar, Agilah Saleh and Khaled al-Mishri, along with various ‘handpicked’ delegations that will be selectively chosen and/or endorsed by UNSMIL. The UN Envoy Ghassan Salame is expected to unveil plans for the next stage of the reconciliation process at this meeting but it is not clear yet what they are. Italy has managed to secure the attendance of key Libyan and international actors including France and Russia, as well as getting Egyptian blessing for the conference, but the level of diplomatic US and UK attendance remains uncertain. The attendance of high-level officials from Russia and France, without the equivalent representation from the UK and US, could undermine confidence in the process for some local factions in the Western region, especially in Misrata. The Palermo conference may be a significant breakthrough that can thaw the official divergence between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan National Army (LNA) and generate new local buy in for a governing structure with unified international support facilitated by the UN. It may not produce an official agreement or commitment by the Libyan actors to elections or a referendum by the dates set in the preceding French-brokered Paris conference, but it may play a role in solidifying and unifying governing structures in the absence of a formal political process and legal reconciliation.