Libyan Political Agreement SIgnature in Skhirat Morocco, Dec 17, 2015 | Source: UNSMIL

Tunis: Libyan Government of National Accord Announced

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Faiez Serraj, head of Libya’s Presidency Council, in an announcement from Tunis named thirty two ministers who would form a (GNA), as an extended deadline neared its expiration.  The Presidency Council was formed by the December 17, 2015 United Nations sponsored Libyan Political Agreement signed in Skhirat, Morocco, and tasked with forming Government of National Accord aimed at uniting Libya’s two rival governments and various factions which broke the country apart in 2014 and allowed Islamic State to gain a foothold in Sirte.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and  Martin Kobler, head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), issued a statement congratulating the Presidency Council: “This is a sterling opportunity for Libyans to come together to build their country. The formation of of National Accord (GNA) is one important leap on the path to peace and stability in Libya, I congratulate the Libyan people. Hard work lies ahead “SRSG Martin Kobler said.

The formation of a Government of National Accord is seen as a necessary precursor for foreign military assistance or intervention to dislodge the Islamic State in Libya which has established a stronghold in the centrally located city of Sirte.

According to Reuters ‘Only seven of the council’s nine members signed the document,’ which would appear to confirm reports that two of the Presidency Council’s members walked out of the negotiations behind held in Tunis during the final 48 hour push to form a government.

The head of Libya’s Presidency Council Faiez Serraj, tasked with forming a GNA, had declared hours before the expiration of a thirty day deadline that the announcement of a list of members which would comprise the GNA was postponed for 48 hours.

Missing a 30 day deadline set forth by the Skhirat agreement signed on December 17th.  Under the United Nations Security Council endorsed agreement the proposed list of GNA members are now scheduled to be voted within ten days by the internationally recognized (HOR) based in Tobruk.

The HOR was forced out of Tripoli in late 2014 after the previous Islamist government refused to recognize the outcome of elections which would have seen it ousted from power.   The Islamists resurrected the General National Congress (GNC) after  seizing Tripoli and exiling the HOR.

On January 13, the GNC announced that it would no longer devote effort to the UNSMIL brokered Libyan Political Dialogue.

“The UN mission neglected the GNC’s proposed amendments to participate actively in the government of concord.”  First Deputy President of the GNC Awad Abdul-Sadiq said, adding “We will start focusing on the key and fundamental issues of concern to the people, and the problems that face them in their lives.”

Western governments, particularly Italy, are growing increasingly anxious about the Islamic State growing strength in Libya.  Although Italy is publicly stating it is opposed to military intervention without a Libyan partner in the short term, it is not ruling it out:

“In the current phase it’s not possible. It would be a serious mistake. Americans and Europeans are squaring their bets on the stabilization of the Country”  Italian Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said of military intervention in an interview to French magazine Le Figaro last week.

However Gentiloni added “If in a few months we will somberly have to admit that the Libyans have renounced this scenario [the formation of a Government of National Accord] , then surely an anti-Isis coalition such as the one in Iraq and Syria will have to be formed but I insist this is not on the agenda today nor tomorrow.”

If a Government of National Accord is approved both the Italians and Germans have plans to assist it on security.  According documents leaked to the German publication ‘Der Speigel’ 150-200 German soldiers, with an unspecified number of Italians, would begin training Libyan forces in Tunisia in a few months.  The training would take place in Tunisia because of security concerns in Libya.

Still at several intervals European countries have considered plan B’s:

In May the European Union had advanced plans to the United Nations for an Italian led military intervention in Libya to dismantle people smuggling networks.

France’s Defense Ministry also revealed it had flown reconnaissance missions over Libya in November as the Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier was being deployed for strikes in Syria following the attacks in Paris.