Site icon The Journal of Africa

Libya: after the failure of the Cairo talks, Stephanie Williams weakened

Stephanie Williams

Sunday concluded the third and final round of discussions between the two Libyan parliamentary chambers, in Egypt. Manul chief Stephanie Williams mediated the talks. A snub for the American. 

Four months. This is the time that the House of Representatives (HoR) and the High Council of State (HCS) - the two Libyan parliamentary chambers - have already taken to decide on the constitutional framework for the next elections. Discussions that Egypt hosted, and that the special representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Stephanie Williams, wanted to frame.

Read: Libya, D-5: The revealing slips of Stephanie Williams

In the end, these discussions did not lead to any tangible results. The head of Manul multiplied the announcements, first ensuring that there were only “a few details to settle” so that the discussions finally ended and the date of the elections was announced.

This Monday, change of tone. She explained that at the end of the last meetings in Cairo, even if "the Joint Committee reached a broad consensus on the contentious articles of the draft Libyan Constitution", “differences persist on the measures governing the transition period leading to the elections”.

In other words, it is a failure. Stephanie Williams contented herself with calling on the presidents of the two parliamentary chambers – Aguila Salah and Khaled al-Michri – to meet within the next ten days “to resolve the outstanding issues”.

Stephanie Williams in the hot seat?

The American seems to have learned nothing from the failures of her past mediations. Brussels, Paris, Casablanca, Cairo or even Tripoli… Salah and al-Michri met eleven times, and never agreed on anything. Whether it's elections, the legitimacy of the government, the new Constitution… The representatives of eastern and western Libya seem eternally irreconcilable.

A disappointment for Stephanie Williams, who has only a few days ahead of her to quickly settle this file. The international parties that have intervened to bring al-Mishri and Salah back to the talking table will then have to bypass parliamentarians to speak directly with rival prime ministers Abdel Hamid Dbeibah and Fathi Bachagha, or Khalifa Haftar in the latter's place.

The parties in question are Turkey, Algeria, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt. The respective diplomacies of these countries have taken a step back to give Stephanie Williams this last chance. But what transpires from the statements is that the American does not inspire confidence in the leaders of the four countries. Algeria and Egypt, for example, have been urging African countries to field candidates to succeed Williams for weeks.

Read: Libya: the political crisis continues, Algeria and Egypt as justices of the peace

Mohammed el-Menfi advocates Lebanese governance

On the other hand, last Sunday, the Libyan Presidential Council, led by Mohammed el-Menfi, announced that its plan for national reconciliation was ready. This project was to be finalized before the last date of the postponed elections last December. This is a legal framework of governance which, according to sources from the Journal de l'Afrique, takes the Lebanese Constitution as an example. "El-Menfi will propose this Thursday, June 23, a system of governance reserving positions in the government and parliament for people from each region of Libya," a source told us.

However, can such a system of tribalo-geographical power sharing convince all the living forces of Libya? The Presidential Council already applies something similar. If el-Menfi and his two deputies get along relatively well, governing a Libya, in the grip of chaos, is significantly different from playing an unofficial diplomatic role.

The proof, while el-Menfi is trying to find an intra-Libyan solution to the political crisis, his deputy for Tripolitania Abdullah al-Lafi has asked for help from… the European Union (EU). Indeed, al-Lafi received the EU ambassador to Libya, José Sabadell, to ask him for “technical assistance” to implement the national reconciliation project. Al-Lafi also met Aguila Salah and Khaled al-Mishri over the weekend.

On the African side, Congolese Foreign Minister Jean-Claude Gakosso was received on Monday by Prime Minister Dbeibah, then by his Libyan counterpart Najla Mangoush in Tripoli. The diplomat hailed the “massive role” of the African Union in reconciliation in Libya. One would almost wonder what Mangoush is talking about exactly.

Exit the mobile version