The Libyan Justice and Construction Party, the political arm of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood, has criticised the meeting between the head of the Libyan Presidential Council Fayez Al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar, the Commander of the Forces of the House of Representatives (HoR), held in Paris. The party considers any meeting hosted by a separate state a threat to the political agreement that has been reached in Libya.
According to statements made by officials of the French ministry of foreign affairs and quoted by Libyan and Western media the party said: “France has submitted an initiative to bring together Haftar and Al-Sarraj today in an attempt to resolve the Libyan crisis as they represent the two sides of the conflict”.
The Justice and Construction Party, the largest Islamist party in Libya, declared in one of its statements that it “refuses to introduce any amendments to the political agreement without the UN’s direct sponsorship”.
In December 2015 the conflicting parties in Libya signed an agreement under the auspices of the United Nations in order to put an end to the political crisis engendered by the war for legitimacy. This agreement resulted in a Presidential Council of National Accord Government and a State Council, in addition to extending the term of the HoR in the city of Tobruk to the East as it is a legislative body. However, the HoR refused to recognise the Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Al-Sarraj – which has already been recognised internationally – unless the agreement is rectified.
The Libyan party considered that “holding any meetings under the auspices of individual countries is a confusing deviation from the political course of the agreement, for it paves the way for countries that have agendas to give primacy to one party at the expense of the other, widen the gap between the different parties, and contribute to the state of continuing division and crisis”.
The party called on “all Libyans regardless of their orientations to support this agreement, adhere to the political and civil track of state unity, and reject militarisation and external interference in the country’s affairs”.
It also called on the UN to “oblige its members to respect the political agreement… and stop dealing with parallel bodies”.
The party expressed its astonishment at “the silence of the international community towards some countries that violate international covenants, conventions, and UN resolutions by supporting armed parties that are opposed to the agreement,” as the party put it.
On 2 May an initiative launched by the UAE and Egypt succeeded to bring Al-Sarraj and Haftar to the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi, which was considered by Libyan groups as the beginning of the resolution of a crisis that has afflicted this Arab country for years.
Haftar, who was appointed by the HoR in Tobruk as the commander of the forces in the east of the country, does not recognise the authority of the GNA, while Al-Sarraj insists that all military leaderships should be subordinated to the authority of the presidential council of the GNA.
Several armed entities have been fighting in Libya since the popular revolution overthrew the former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Three different governments have been battling for power, two of them in the capital Tripoli (West), which are the internationally recognised GNA and the National Front for the Salvation of Libya. In addition to these there is the interim government in the city of Bayda (East) that belongs to the Tobruk Parliament to which Haftar’s forces are affiliated.
This piece was first published in Arabic in Al-Mugtama on 25 July 2017.