Despite The International Community’s Cautious Optimism The SC May Be Undermining The Peace Process
Since the GNA’s arrival to Tripoli, several Western and Arab countries have expressed cautious optimism about Libya’s political future. Tunisia, Turkey and France have led the way, expressing their intentions of re-opening their embassies in Tripoli in the near future. Germany pledged the Presidency Council in Tripoli €3 million in immediate aid to spend on “much-needed security infrastructure.” Despite these Western hopes following the GNA’s successful implantation establishment in Tripoli, the political developments of the last two weeks may have damaged the peace process by actually bringing differing factions together. More specifically, the hasty and irregular manner in which the pro-GNA members of the GNC established the State Council and elected its president sparked an outcry not only in the East, which is widely opposed to the LPA, but also in Tripoli itself. On 5 April, the GNC announced its dissolution and the establishment of the State Council. On 7 April the 73 members of the GNC circumvented the HoR by ‘amending’ the constitutional declaration and electing the controversial Misratan politician Abdulrahman Sewhli as President of the SC. On 8 April, hundreds of demonstrators took to Tripoli’s Martyrs’ Square to protest this decision.
The appointing of Swehli, which violates the LPA on many counts, has undermined the credibility of the UN mediate peace process in the eyes of many Libyans. Kobeler’s championing of the PC and the GNA in Tripoli has come at the expense of real political reconciliation. Kobeler’s support for Abdulrahman Swehli and his failure to address the question regarding the SC’s legality are undermining his standing in Libyans’ eyes. Swehli’s leadership of the SC is highly problematic because he is not a member of the GNC, but rather a boycotting member of the HoR.
It is also important to remember that the SC is only a consultative body under the LPA. As, such the SC lacks the authority to replace the HoR, which the LPA designates as Libya’s legislative body. The violations of the LPA (even before it has been fully endorsed by the HoR) pose a significant threat to the sustainability of the deal.
Without a constitutional amendment by the HoR the institutions involved in implementing the LPA (such as the HoR and the SC) are likely to splinter further and erode the support bases of the UN agreement.