Libya’s Leaders Have ‘Unique Opportunity’ to Reach Political Settlement Following Signing of Political Agreement, Security Council Told

5 November 2015
7550th Meeting (AM)

Libya’s Leaders Have ‘Unique Opportunity’ to Reach Political Settlement Following Signing of Political Agreement, Security Council Told

Formation of National Accord Government ‘Imminent’, Says Permanent Representative

Libya’s leaders had a unique opportunity to reach a political settlement that would spare their people further bloodshed, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country told the Security Council today, emphasizing that the recently negotiated Political Agreement sought to create a viable middle ground upon which all stakeholders could meet.

Bernardino León, who is also the Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said the Political Agreement, negotiated within the United Nations-facilitated dialogue process, had resulted from a complex year-long process of negotiations and compromises.  It aimed to lay out a set of principles and structures that would guide the next phase of Libya’s political transition until a constitution was established.  “I invite Libya’s leaders, therefore, to uphold higher national interests and safeguard their country’s national unity, independence and territorial integrity.”

He said the Mission had convened what should have been a final round of talks in Skhirat, Morocco, to facilitate deliberations on the composition of the Presidency Council that would lead Libya’s future Government of national accord.  After four days of talks, which concluded on 8 October, members of the Libyan political dialogue had forged a consensus on six nominees, including a Prime Minister-designate, three Deputy Prime Ministers and two senior ministers.  The proposed composition of the Presidency Council had been seen as a means of securing a consensus that would allow a future Government to assume office, he said.

While the breakthrough had been widely hailed, strong objections had been voiced in the House of Representatives over perceived inadequate representation for the east, particularly Benghazi, he said.  In the three weeks that had followed, the United Nations had consulted with parties from across the political spectrum so as to resolve outstanding concerns.  While there appeared to be growing support for expanding the Presidency Council in order to safeguard geographical and regional representation, the main political stakeholders had yet to offer a formal and final pronouncement on the Political Agreement or the proposed Presidency Council.

Meanwhile, UNSMIL continued to impress upon the House of Representatives and the Tripoli-based General National Congress the need to convene a democratic vote on the proposals, he said.  Indeed, there could be no peace in Libya without engagement and buy-in on the part of all the parties.  Forging consensus and arriving at a balanced political agreement would likely be a protracted process, and success would depend on endorsement by all parties.  Likewise, Libyan ownership of the dialogue process was non-negotiable, he added.

However, the magnitude of the dangers facing Libya should not be underestimated, he said, emphasizing that the country’s economy and finances were showing signs of rapid decline, while the absence of effective authority was manifesting in growing insecurity and criminality.  The growing influence of terrorist and extremist groups threatened State authority, while the barbarity seen in areas under their control augured what was to come in the absence of united action, he warned.

The conflict had exacted a heavy toll on the Libyan people, he said, with death and displacement becoming all too common, particularly in Benghazi, where the destruction of entire civilian neighbourhoods, as well as human rights abuses, had scarred the city beyond recognition.  Illegal migration and human trafficking had added other dimension to the people’s suffering.  In that context, he reminded Libya’s leaders of their political and moral responsibility to conclude the dialogue process, since there was no justification for delay.  He urged leaders in the House of Representatives and the General National Congress to heed calls to desist from obstructing the democratic process, a message that had also echoed across Libya’s political and civil society spectrum.

Encouraging Libya’s leaders to uphold higher national interests and safeguard national unity, independence and territorial integrity, he said the coming days would be critical.  The United Nations would continue to encourage the two main political stakeholders to endorse the proposals, while working with moderate voices from other dialogue tracks, and from across Libya’s political and civil society spectrum, including security actors, to forge a viable way forward.  It must also be ready to quickly mobilize support for a future Government of national accord, he said.  Reassuring Libya’s leaders of international support for a future Government, he stressed that “the onus is now on them to forge a new political reality and bring a decisive and permanent end to their country’s political turmoil and armed conflict”.

Following the briefing, Ibrahim Dabbashi (Libya) said the goal of establishing a Government of national accord was significantly closer today, thanks to the Special Representative’s efforts.  It was clear that the political dialogue was reaching its conclusion, and that the formation of the Government of national accord was imminent.

The President of the Council of Representatives had said that the overwhelming majority of Libyans wanted to end the killing amongst brothers, he said.  However, they were the hostages of armed groups, unable to express their opinion freely.  Hundreds of thousands were refugees, and their return would only be possible if there was agreement to establish a Government whose authority would cover the entire Libyan territory.  Neither the Council nor the Special Representative had expressed a clear position that those who opposed the Government and committed acts of terrorism had no place in a Government of national accord.  To consider that militias would protect such a Government was an affront to all Libyans who had suffered under those same armed groups.

He insisted that militias could not play a role in the field of security, except for militia members who were willing to integrate into the national police, after having been investigated and trained.  The only way to protect the Government and its institutions was by creating a force of officers from the national army and police who had proven that they had not been involved in illegal activities.  He went on to stress that stability could not be achieved amid foreign interference on Libya’s territory.  The power vacuum created by the fall of the dictatorship could only be filled by holding a presidential election.  To that end, the international community must support the work of the Constitution Drafting Committee.

The meeting began at 11:10 a.m. and ended at 11:35 a.m.

For information media. Not an official record.