Inflation, Haftar, Article 8, and the Misratans
The UN-mediated Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) process continues to inch forward despite structural challenges inhibiting the process. Deep differences continue to plague the presidential council, particularly regarding the omnipresent ‘Haftar Dilemma’ which is threatening to split the Misratan camp in two. The HoR will only approve an LPA without Article 8 which would mean effectively maintaining Haftar in control of the Libyan National Army. The HoR’s insistence on removing Article 8 could make the resulting deal unpalatable to factions currently supporting it in Western Libya, like most Misratan militias. On the other hand, members representing the GNC in the dialogue committee have failed to deliver effective GNC participation in the UN mediated LPA, and thus have failed to deliver a Tripoli which is secure for the GNA, a precondition for a viable Unity Government. The Constitutional issues facing the LPA if the HoR rejects the new proposed cabinet are dealt with in an excellent article by Azza Maghur in Jadal.
As the politicians prattle, the economic situation is reaching the breaking point. In western Libya, crime and civil instability is on the rise, fueled by the worsening conditions of the economy and the teetering collapse of public service delivery institutions. This week saw Tripoli’s first case of H1N1 bird flu virus, while medical establishments have come to an almost gridlock in the face of extreme lack of funds and specialists. For the whole of the country, the prices of basic goods like bread and other food items rising approximately 10% last month. Inflation is being generated by excessive printing of Libyan currency in addition to the rapid depletion of Libya’s foreign reserves due to mismanagement and widespread corruption. Liquidity in the banks are reportedly at historical lows, threatening the payment of salaries in the short term, while prices of basic commodities and sustenance are skyrocketing. This poses risks of unprecedented levels of social discontent. This makes selling any unity government even harder as for such a government to be popular it has to deliver economic well being to the country something which will be increasingly difficult in these dire times.
On the other hand, a bungled Western intervention is looking more likely by the day. Here is what The Economist has to say about it.