HoR walks away from UN dialogue talks as Haftar pushes towards Tripoli
On 15 October, the UN Support Mission in Libya’s (UNSMIL) new Joint Drafting Committee, composed of members of both the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS), met for the second time in Tunis to continue negotiations on amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). As discussions continued the following day, and despite the UNSMIL indicating that both sides had developed a “clearer understanding of the selection-mechanism for the Presidency Council,” the HoR announced that they were suspending their participation in the dialogue. Detailing frustrations with the HCS for being unwilling to engage with contentious issues and unable to provide ‘conclusive solutions’ to points of disagreement, the HoR stated that they would not pursue any further discussions until receiving in writing the HCS’s position on crucial matters.
The key issues of contention are not detailed, however they are likely to be connected to how individuals are selected for key positions and to Article 8 of the LPA. Article 8 requires all military positions to be vacant upon the formation of the new Libyan government and would see Khalifar Haftar lose his position as commander of the armed forces. Sources say that the HoR wants the decisions of the Supreme Commander of Libyan Army, which under the current terms would be the PC, to be approved by the HoR, while the HCS rejects this.
The situation is likely to put the new UNSMIL road map into a prolonged state of ‘limbo’ that may provide Haftar with an opportunity to justify and pursue his preference for a military solution to the crisis. Haftar has said the ongoing UN political process is not the only solution to Libya’s political crisis, implying that a military solution “approved by the people” remains possible. During a speech in Benghazi on 14 October, Haftar claimed that the Libyan National Army (LNA) controls territory from Ras al-Jedir to west Zawiyya, and while Tripoli remains outside his grasp, he has on several occasions stated his willingness to take the city by force if necessary. If the LNA’s military control and social support for Haftar increases in western Libya, Haftar may no longer see any value in paying lip service to the UN process and could attempt to achieve his aim of taking Tripoli through force or via a series of alliances on the ground.