Salame risks Libyan division to serve West's interests: sources

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Wed, 23 May 2018 - 08:32 GMT

File-SRSG Ghassan Salame and PM of the Government of National Accord of Libya, Fayez al-Sarraj.

File-SRSG Ghassan Salame and PM of the Government of National Accord of Libya, Fayez al-Sarraj.

CAIRO – 23 May 2018: Official Libyan sources criticized the role played by SRSG and UNSMIL head Ghassan Salame through Western organizations that hold meetings in Morocco and Dakar to "polish" the political Islam in Libya in a failed attempt to re-produce the Islamists in the political scene.

They added that Salame was mistaken when he compared Cairo's meetings to unite Libyan parties to the meetings of Dakar and Morocco, which have achieved very little on the ground.

The Libyan sources claimed that Salame cooperates with suspicious French-backed organizations, criticizing his desire to bring Islamists back to the political scene in the coming period. The sources warned that security there could deteriorate further in the absence of any progress towards a political solution.

Some of the Libyan political parties criticized the series of meetings promoted by Salame to try to support the French vision in Libya and serve Paris' interests in the country, referring to Salame's attempts to marginalize in his brief to the UN Security Council yesterday.

Salame has reported to the UN Security Council on the latest situation in Libya, revealing that he had finally given up on attempting to get the conflicting entrenched Libyan parties to amend the stalled Libyan Political Agreement (LPA) signed in the Moroccan town of in December 2015. This had been one of the main pillars of his 2017 Action Plan.

Instead, Salame said that he was now pushing ahead for elections to be held by the end of 2018, subject to proper conditions. He said that there now exists a nationwide call for elections which was confirmed by the initial outcomes of the National Conference events. Salame called on the House of Representatives in consultation with the High State Council to deliver the necessary legislation for elections.

The Libyan sources said that the country is too divided to hold elections and Salame risks partition if it goes ahead with a vote without security guarantees and a national consensus on building a state.

As he mentioned in his March briefing to UNSC, Salame confirmed that he will reveal UNSMIL’s plans to deal with Libya’s militias. He admitted that this plan ‘‘will not unravel armed groups tomorrow but will help the long process begin in earnest.’’

The UNSMIL head also criticized Faiez Serraj for intending to give unlimited powers to the Salafist Special Deterrence Force (Rada) militia which was recently condemned by Reporters Without Frontiers (RSF).

He noted that ‘‘the continued influence of armed groups upon politics and the economy is perilous, and unless resisted is in danger of expanding; as recently shown in a disputed decision by the Government of National Accord to give powers to an armed group, that can only belong to the sovereign state.’’

Meanwhile, Egypt's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sameh Shoukry, along with his Tunisian and Algerian counterparts, took part in a tripartite meeting on Libya, held on Monday in Algeria.

The meeting discussed the holding of a referendum on a new constitution in Libya, and the parliamentary and presidential elections that the United Nations intended to hold before the end of this year.

They also discussed ways to strengthen the efforts to accelerate the peace and reconciliation process between Libyan disputing parties.

Three consultative meetings were already held over the issue of Libya, respectively in Algeria in June 2017, in Egypt in November 2017 and in Tunisia in December 2017.

On the other hand, the Popular National Movement said in a statement on Saturday that the Dakar meetings, that took place last week in the Senegalese capital, included several terrorist factions known for using violence.

The statement revealed that several radical Islamist political figures, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, attended the meeting and were discussing the country’s future and political situation in an unacceptable way, and that “All of these figures are just using religion again to control the country.”

Furthermore, the statement said that among the factions that attended the Dakar meetings was the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. “This group used to be the backbone of terrorist organizations in Libya,” the statement stressed.

The Libyan Popular National Movement accused the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group of being responsible for all the violence that took place inside the country during the past years; therefore, the Dakar meetings were refused by several political movements and figures, saying that many of the political parties attending the meetings were not “accepted within the political scene anymore,” unless they issue a formal apology to the government.

The meeting which concluded May 13, called all the Libyan political parties to take part in the coming round of talks, set to take place within the coming 60 days.

Since the ouster of long-time Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi more than six years ago, the war-torn country has drawn wide international and regional attention, posing a threat to North African and European national security.

Libya, which is struggling to get through the critical political situation that it has been experiencing since 2011, is not only trying to unify its army, but is also longing to revive its political functions by conducting presidential and legislative elections by mid-2018.

Egypt has hosted several meetings to bring the conflicting factions to the negotiating table, alongside members of Tobruk’s House of Representatives, to resolve the Libyan crisis and amend the Skhirat Agreement, which aims at ending the Libyan civil war.

On May 1, Libyan House of Representatives speaker, Aguila Saleh, said that holding a presidential election in Libya before the end of 2018 is the only solution to solve Libya’s political crisis, especially that it is difficult to reach a real political agreement in Libya soon.

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