Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Libya’s elected parliament suspends participation in UN-backed talks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55337075

UN Special Envoy Bernardino Leon (C) attends a meeting in Ghadames, on September 29, 2014. (REUTERS/Stringer)

UN Special Envoy Bernardino León (C) attends a meeting with Libyan lawmakers in Ghadames, Libya, on September 29, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer)

UN Special Envoy Bernardino León (C) attends a meeting with Libyan lawmakers in Ghadames, Libya, on September 29, 2014. (Reuters/Stringer)

Benghazi, Reuters—Libya’s elected parliament voted on Monday to suspend its participation in a UN-sponsored dialogue between Libya’s rival conflict parties, vying for control of the oil producer, lawmakers said.

The United Nations had been planning to hold a new round of talks in Morocco this week, the latest attempt to defuse a violent power struggle threatening to break up the North African country.

The elected assembly has been based in the east, like the internationally recognized government, since a faction called Libyan Dawn seized the capital Tripoli in August, reinstating the previous assembly and installing a rival government there.

Farraj Hashem, spokesman of the House of Representatives, cited a double suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in the eastern town of Qubba on Friday, which killed 45 people, as a reason for the suspension.

“The other side did not condemn the Qubba blast and does not acknowledge the terrorism on its land,” He said, adding that the dialogue lacked any “vision.”

Opposition to the UN-sponsored talks has been building in the east. Some lawmakers have accused Libyan Dawn of having ties to Islamist militants, something it denies.

On Friday, several hundred protesters in the main eastern city, Benghazi, demanded an end to the talks, burning the flags of the United States and Britain and accusing them of backing Islamist groups.

Another lawmaker, Idris Abdullah, said there were concerns the talks would lead to a national government approved by both parliaments, which might undermine the legitimacy of the House of Representatives.

The United Nations has been trying to form such a unity government to end the political splits.

But each side encompass a variety of political and business leaders as well as armed groups, unsurprising in a country left without effective national institutions by Muammar Gaddafi’s 42 years of one-man rule.

The other rival assembly, the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli, said it was willing to continue the dialogue, which started in September in the southern Libyan city of Ghadames, a lawmaker who asked not to be named told Reuters.

Each side is backed by brigades of fighters who helped to oust Gaddafi in 2011 but have since turned against one another in a complex conflict involving tribes, former Gaddafi troops, Islamist militants and federalist forces.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives said on Sunday it will end all contracts with companies from Turkey, a country it has accused of supporting a rival administration.

However, it did not spell out its reasons for the decision, posted on a cabinet website late on Sunday.

A Turkish official said the government was evaluating the situation in the north African oil producer, where Turkish businesses have traditionally had a strong presence.

“The council of ministers . . . decided to review all contracts with foreign companies in all areas and exclude Turkish firms from operating in Libya,” the cabinet statement said.

Major world powers have already boycotted the Tripoli government backed by Islamists groups.

Turkey is one of a handful of countries which has publicly received officials from the Tripoli government and parliament.

Ankara has denied siding with the Tripoli government, and has frequently said it supported UN efforts to broker peace, while repeatedly calling for more inclusive talks to end the bloodshed.

Critics of Ankara say its Libya policy is an extension of a pro-Islamist agenda which has already seen relations sour with other former regional allies, notably Egypt.

Any ban of Turkish companies would be limited to eastern areas where forces allied to the Tobruk government are in control.

Libya’s official government banned Palestinians, Syrians and Sudanese from entry in January, saying their countries were undermining Libya’s security.