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Home » Libya » Joint Communique on Libya

Excerpts from SRSG for Libya Bernardino Leon’s Press Conference Held in Tunis, Tunisia,  Wednesday 21 October 2015:


As you know there has been a position announced by the Speaker of the House of Representatives followed by a statement signed by what seems to be a majority of the members insisting that there was no proper vote and that was no proper decision taken by the House of Representatives on the agreement. This has created some confusion and I am coming here today, first of all, to insist that the process goes on, that there is no chance for small groups or personalities to hijack this process, that a majority of the Libyans want a political solution, they don’t want any more confrontations. The Libyan people are the ones suffering the consequences of these confrontations and the responsibility of the Libyan actors involved in this process and the international community and the United Nations that are supporting them is mainly to respond to these Libyans that are suffering.

So the process will go on. The political solution is the only real alternative. Unfortunately, all these groups or personalities that are opposing the political solution have not been able to put on the table any alternative. So it is just a negative message, just a No, but they are not able to tell the Libyan people what can be done to improve their situation.
This is, let me enhance this point, this is a Libyan-owned process, this is not the international community, this is not the United Nations, brining solution for the Libyans. If this was the case, in two or three weeks the international community could have put on the table a text, a proposal for the Libyans to accept it, but this is not the case, this has been a process that has taken more than a year. Why? because as you know very well we have been trying very hard to have all the Libyans, representing all the different political and geographic regions around the table. And we believe that this is the most important asset this dialogue has. And this is not only about institutions, like the HoR or the GNC, this process has had different tracks. We have had the municipalities. We have had women, civil society, the political parties even the tribes, although with the tribes as you know it has been more difficult so far, but all of them are important actors and all of them are responsible for the different proposals this dialogue has been bringing on the table.
The international community, the United Nations, we are facilitators but we are not the ones putting these ideas or proposing the names in the case of the national unity government.

I would like also to say something which is important about the east, and specifically about Benghazi. Many comments about Benghazi and the east not being taken into account enough, and I think this is not fair. If you read the agreement and you read the annexes you will see that there is a specific committee on Benghazi, you will see that there is a fund to address Benghazi. I know that some people in Benghazi say this is not enough, there should be more weight in the government for a city like Benghazi , and they address these requests to the United Nations, as if it was a possibility for the United Nations or me personally to answer these requests. I wish I can, because for those who listened to my last Security Council report, you know how strongly I insisted on Benghazi, how politically and even emotionally I insisted that we have to express awareness and solidarity with the people from Benghazi. They are suffering more than anyone else, and I am of course ready to convey this request of having more political weight in the government, even the possibility that some of them are presenting to have one of member in the Presidential Council. But I can only convey this to the people involved in the Libyan dialogue. I cannot take the decision. This decision has to be taken by consensus. So let’s leave the Libyans to answer this question, it will not be the international community or the United Nations that can impose this on the others. The basis of our dialogue has been consensus and it will continue to be consensus.

I have been briefing today the international community, we have an unprecedented support for this process and for the Libyans, and I think this is very, very important. We have, I always enhance this point, other crises in the region and in these other crises the international community is not, in this unanimous way, supporting one solution. This Libyan proposal has been supported strongly by international community and I think Libyans can be proud to have this support from all these international actors and I think this is a very important asset for this.

We have been listening to the Libyans in the last days especially after these information starting to come from Tobruk. And I can tell you that the wave of support, the wave of requests to go on from what I believe is a strong majority of the Libyans, expressed by municipalities, by civil society organizations, by just people, simple people sending messages through the social media in many different ways, make us believe that this process is still strong, will be able to overcome this situation and my conclusion before I answer your questions is very clear: the process is going on, we will convene new meetings in the coming days to listen to proposals and ideas from the Libyans involved in the process and those outside the process to go on, because it is very urgent that the unity government is in Tripoli, is sending positive messages from Tripoli. It is not a government yet, it’s true, we need the endorsement of the agreement by the institutions involved in this dialogue to become a full government, but it is important that the Libyans see that we go on and that the proposals from this dialogue will prevail.

Question: Do you still to continue today to recognize HoR as legitimate body? Between GNC and HoR we seem to have irreconcilable differences, is it not time you decide we are going the wrong side?

LEON: OK on the first question, I think you have to ask the international community. The United Nations is a facilitator but recognition is something coming from the international community. However, today we are in a kind of limbo and I want to give you my personal view here. The HoR has not been allowed to vote. This what we hear from this statement coming from a very important group of members, what seems to be a majority of the members of the HoR, close to 70 members.

So let us see if they can either vote or at least express the will of the majority, because the message from the agreement is very clear the legitimacy of the institutions will come only from the agreement. So if the agreement is adopted or supported by the House of Representatives they will, of course, be in the legitimacy. And I think in this case they can expect the recognition of the international community at the same time. And this is not the United Nations, this is the international community, I have seen in recent days statements saying that no unilateral decision will be recognized. So if the way chosen – I’m not going to talk now specifically about the HoR but about any Libyan party proposing unilateral solutions outside the national consensus – my impression is that this will not be recognized by the international community.

But I insist it is something you have to ask the ones who recognize are the members of the international community and not the United Nations. On endorsing the text in July, we have seen the Speaker of HoR reading the text in which he talked about the July text but we have seen close to 70 members saying that this is not reflecting the majority of the members of the HoR and that there was no proper vote. So, I think we have to be very cautious. In any case, let me enhance something. The July text was only initialed, and it was initialed because this was marking the end of the stage in which we were discussing this political text and we started to negotiate the annexes. So it was a way to say for the moment ‘let’s leave this text apart and let’s start the new stage’. But only the text will be final, that will include the annexes, and in the annexes, Annex No. 1 is the list of members of the Presidential Council, will not be initialed but signed, and the only thing that legally speaking will make the agreement enter into force is the final signing. This has not happened yet. And Let me say that the July text is not a final text. So, it is not an option to endorse July (text) because you don’t have the annexes, you don’t have many of the final provisions, mechanism to solve legal disputes, etc. So, the July text is not a final text and cannot be endorsed.

Question: UNSC threatened sanctions on those who block peace deal… wouldn’t this complicate the process further and marginalize certain people?

LEON: Whether it will complicate things or not is not a question. This mechanism is there. It is included in resolution 2174, which was approved in August last year, and it was a very clear message from the international community to Libyan actors. It was even before I was appointed Special Representative 1st of September last year.

This is there and this is another mechanism at the disposal of the international community. These sanctions I’m sure it has been mentioned before by the Security Council, I’m sure it will be mentioned again. Because what we are seeing today in Libya is small groups of people, hardliners in both camps, specific personalities taking the decision to use the power they have not to allow in this case a democratic vote. And it has happened exactly the same in the HoR and in the GNC. The international community, the Security Council is saying this cannot happen. You cannot use your power, your competencies as your specific role in an institution to prevent the democratic exercise of the vote.

So let’s see what happens in the coming days. This is not UNSMIL. This is the Security Council, the Sanctions Committee, but I am sure we will see them thinking of these sanctions. And you know how they work: this is travel ban, this is bank accounts, it’s about the first set of measures against personalities who opposed the political process. I want to be very cautious. I think for the moment we are in an early stage. No specific personalities or groups have been so far included in this list. But if the negative attitude continues it will happen in the coming days I’m sure.

Question: What about plan B (inaudible)?

LEON: Plan B I think we can as United Nations and international community listen again and for the last time what are the concerns, the most important concerns from HoR, GNC and others. And we can engage to work with the government in the future to address these concerns but we should not make more changes in the agreement because this would delay and it could delay for months a solution that Libya badly needs. You know, two days ago still there was a beheading announcement from ISIS that a South Sudanese person has been killed and beheaded. We cannot continue this way and the Libyans should be aware that the problems they are facing require solutions now. This was very clear, this is not UNSMIL that is saying this, this was a very clear message from the international community in the high-level meeting we had in New York. The message is that the text is final, if you have concerns try to address these concerns in a different way and go now for the formation of a unity government.

MORE EXCERPTS:
You have two layers, you have the legal layer and the second, if I can say so, the pragmatic one. Legally speaking, the international community recognized elections last year and HoR as stemming from these elections as a legitimate body. And now the political agreement is very clear: the legitimacy of the institutions in a moment in which Libya cannot have elections, in this context, with these divisions, the only source of legitimacy can come from the agreement. So the HoR was not allowed to vote. We still hope the HoR will have the possibility to express an opinion on the agreement in the coming days. If this decision is to accept the agreement I think that the international community will keep this recognition as stemming from this agreement. If their decision is not, to refuse the agreement and to go for unilateral formulations the ball will be on the side of the international community but what I have seen in recent statements is that the international community does not need to be ready to recognize unilateral steps. So, we hope they (HoR) will accept the agreement and go on with the agreement, even if some concerns still have to be addressed. This is possible as I said before, not entering a new process of amendments, but with engagement to address these concerns in the future when the government will be formed.

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