By Mohamed Eljarh, Nonresident Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.
The UN Special Envoy for Libya Bernardino Leon announced his final proposals for Libya’s national unity government on October 8, after more than a year of negotiations between the country’s rival factions.
Both of Libya’s rival parliaments, however, remain split on whether to accept or reject the proposed agreement. Agilah Saleh, the President of Libya’s internationally recognized House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk, claimed on October 18 that members had reached consensus to reject Leon’s latest version of the agreement—despite the utter lack of a vote on the matter.
More than sixty HoR members protested Saleh’s conduct when he abruptly interrupted the session, read out the statement of rejection, announced the session closed, then left the parliament building. Members were still discussing the final position of the HoR that would have included support for the Government of National Accord (GNA), but with key conditions before endorsing the final agreement.
These conditions included a return to the initially signed version agreed to back in July, implying that the last minute changes that Leon made to the so-called final text would not pass a vote in Tobruk.
One of Leon’s key changes included the distribution of power in the Executive Council (the proposed interim body with presidential powers) to include a third deputy from the city of Misrata. According to the July agreement, the Executive Council would consist of a Prime Minister and two deputies who would represent Libya’s three historic regions: Tripolitania (West), Barqa (East) and Fezzan (South).
Given the candidacy of Fayez Sarraj from Tripoli for Prime Minister, the two deputies would have been from the Barqa and Fezzan. The addition of a third deputy from Misrata has angered many in eastern Libya in addition to the powerful town of Zintan in the west whose forces have battled Misrata militias for political and territorial control over the past four years. Representatives of Benghazi and Zintan have now demanded the inclusion of their own deputies—with veto powers—in the Executive Council.