Libya parliament rejects UN peace plan

Libya parliament rejects UN peace plan
Analysis: Libya’s elected parliament has rejected the peace plan of the UN Libya envoy, who recently warned the country was on the verge of becoming a failed state.
4 min read
09 June, 2015
Libya Dawn recently lost control of Sirte airport to the IS in Libya [Getty]

Libya's elected parliament has rejected a draft UN proposal to form a unity government, and withdrew from the latest round of peace talks in the Moroccan resort of Skhirat, a senior parliamentarian has told the Reuters news agency.

"A majority of deputies voted to reject the proposal," Tareq al-Jouroushi said, speaking from Tobruk, the city in eastern Libya where the country's elected parliament, the Council of Representatives, is based.

This rejection is a severe setback for UN special envoy Bernardino Leon, who presented the proposal for a unity government to both sides of Libya's civil war on Monday.

Leon's proposal called for a government of national accord with a one year term, in which a council of ministers headed by a prime minister and two deputies would have executive authority.

Jouroushi said politicians objected to including the Tripoli parliament in the UN proposal. "The proposal does not reflect the legitimacy of the elected parliament," he said.

A majority of deputies voted to reject the proposal.
-Tareq al-Jouroushi

Under the deal, the Council of Representatives would be the only legislative body, but there would be a 120-member State Council consultative body consisting of members of the rival Tripoli parliament.

Leon said that has was optimistic about the prospects for an agreement, and that the two parties agreed on "80 percent" of the proposed draft.

A failing state or a failed state?

The latest setback comes after Leon issued a stark warning last Wednesday that Libya risked becoming a failed state.

Four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, the country is at war with itself, with two rival governments, backed by rival armed groups and supported by different coalitions of regional states.

Leon told the representatives of Libyan factions attending peace talks in Algiers that the country "really is at the limit", according to AFP.

However, according to Andrew Engel from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Libya is already a failed state, on its way to being "Somalia on the southern Mediterranean", locked in a bitter civil war for the foreseeable future.

Engel said Libya met the standard definitions of a failed state, namely that it lacked a monopoly of force within its borders, could not control its population or territory, and did not provide public goods.

Further, he added, the Libyan state is in imminent danger of total collapse, with the minimum level of government Libyan state institutions provide and the limited authority they enjoy in parts of the country in danger of disappearing entirely.

This is the scenario that appears to concern Leon, who warned that Libya's institutions were running out of money to pay salaries and that, even if oil production returned to normal, it would not generate enough revenue to sustain public finances.

Libya is on its way to being Somalia on the southern Mediterranean.
-Andrew Engels

Oil production, which before the latest round of the civil war erupted in 2014 had returned almost to the levels they had been before the 2011 revolt against Gaddafi, have fallen by around 90 percent.

He warned that rival factions were "not flagging very clearly a decision to reach an agreement, while we have seen terrorism, we have seen Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group) becoming more and more important in the country."

Little cause for optimism

Complicating any resolution are the vested interests of regional states. Turkey, Qatar and Sudan are believed to back the Islamist forces of Libya Dawn and the Tripoli-based General National Congress, while Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are believed to back the internationally-recognised Congress of Deputies, based in Tobruk in the far east of the country, supported by the forces of Khalifa Haftar.

After more than a year of heavy fighting, neither side appears to be capable of gaining a military advantage over the other. Three rounds of peace talks brokered by the UN have achieved little, with neither side willing to make concessions to the other.

The Islamic State group (IS) is going from strength to strength, on Thursday taking control of the airport of Sirte, Gaddhahi's hometown, from the forces of Libya Dawn.

General Khalifa Haftar started the civil war last year when he came out in open revolt against the old Islamist-dominated General National Congress when it unilaterally extended its mandate instead of holding new elections.

He forced new elections that elected the current Council of Deputies, in which only 18 percent of Libyans voted. Haftar and his government were subsequently forced out of Tripoli by the forces of Libya Dawn.