After Calling for Libya’s Unity Government to Enter Tripoli, UN Envoy Can’t Get There Himself

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After a meeting of Libya's neighboring countries in Tunis on Tuesday, March 22, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya UNSMIL Special Representative Martin Kolber, called on the Faiez Serraj led (GNA) to take office in Tripoli and said it was a matter of "days if not weeks" before it would do so. Yet it seems Kolber himself can't get to Tripoli.

 

On Tuesday, after the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of Libya's Neighboring countries, chaired by the Tunisian Khemaies Jhinaoui, Kolber announced he would visit Tripoli on Wednesday to "pave the way" for the GNA to take office in the Libyan capital.

 

However, as with several previous attempts to visit Tripoli, Kobler was refused permission to fly into Tripoli. Kolber has insisted that the trip is delayed rather than canceled, it seems that in weighing Kolber's prediction that the GNA would enter Tripoli in "days if not weeks' that the safer bet would be on the latter.

 

 

In a televised statement on Libya's Al-Nabaa TV, Nuri Abu Sahmain, the Speaker of the General National Congress, said that the Tripoli government, while still refusing to recognize the GNA had however agreed to hold a meeting Kolber in Tripoli on, Wednesday in Tripoli.  Whether the statement reflects an attempt by the GNC to invite Kolber and embarrass him by refusing him entry or whether the GNC is in discord over the trip is a matter of speculation. 

 

The GNC frequently issues bombastic and contradictory statements including some which defy normal logic and appear intended for show.

 

When Tunisia completed construction on a security barrier along 250 km of its border, the Tripoli Foreign Minister Ali Abou Zakouk threatened to close the border.  In the same timeframe in mid-February the Tripoli authorities protested the Tunisian authorities decision to restrict flights from Libya by deporting 'Tunisian terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State' by air to Tunisia, although they loaded the 'dangerous terrorists onto planes without restraints and even gave them boarding passes. 

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See: Tripoli Authorities Give Boarding Passes to Islamic State Suspects

The Tripoli authorities almost make Tunisia's own Government Spokesman Khaled Chouket look competent.  Almost......  See: Tunisia & the Government Spokesman who Shouldn't Speak

 

The General National Congress GNC which purports to rule from Tripoli has called the GNA illegal and threatened to arrest any of its members who attempt to enter Tripoli. Those threats were followed through on when members of the GNA's 'temporary security committee' entered Tripoli to make security arrangements for the GNA's arrival and were arrested earlier this month, they have since been released but the GNC has threatened to charge them with treason.

 

After the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of Libya’s Neighboring Countries concluded in Tunis on Tuesday, March 22, with statements of support the United Nations backed, and UNSMIL mediated, Government of National Accord and the “necessity to speed up its departure for Tripoli.”

A joint statement from the meeting said that Libya’s neighbors rejected a foreign military intervention against terrorist groups in Libya unless it was requested by a Government of National Accord.

 

Faiez Serraj, the Prime Minister designate of a future unity government is tasked with reconciling the western General National Congress (GNC) which runs Tripoli and the (HOR) in Tobruk, which the GNC exiled from Tripoli to eastern Libya in 2014.

Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui, who hosted the meeting, said that “the proliferation of terrorist groups and their control of certain regions in Libya is a source of extreme concern, a danger for Libya’s people and for the stability of its neighbors.”