The contours of the conference on Libya, which was held in Paris on Friday, were blurred. Nonetheless, the conclusions of the meeting are disappointing.
Fifty countries, thirty heads of state, several international organizations including the United Nations ... The audience, gathered at the call of the French state in Paris, was prestigious, to say the least. this Friday, November 12, 2021. After several hours of discussions, the Paris Conference on Libya delivered its conclusions in a press release that is as long as it is bland. Explanations.
The Paris Conference on Libya was organized in a very tense context. And six weeks before the December 24 elections, the outcome is more than disappointing. The conference, organized by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Emmanuel Macron, aimed to restore the French image. Macron wants to win again in Libya, where he has been blacklisted. And if France seeks to unite around the candidate from the East Libyan Khalifa Haftar, it is done without tact. The marshal's son, who had landed aboard his private jet on Thursday night in Paris, was sent home unequivocally. According to a source who confided in the Journal of Africa, a guest known by the initials "OK", supposed to represent Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, was present in Paris before and during the conference. This man is said to have spoken with three African heads of state and several ministers.
Thus, the conference, during which Algeria, Russia and Turkey were absent, ultimately benefited Haftar much less than expected than the son of Muammar Gaddafi. A more than unexpected turnaround, which highlights the fragmentation of the Libyan political scene in view of the upcoming elections, but above all of the potential post-electoral unrest.
A self-righteousness in due form
On the morning of the conference, The Journal of Africa had obtained the draft conclusions of the Paris Conference. Unsurprisingly, the draft was, during the day, transformed into a final press release, without the document being edited. In other words, the Elysee had drafted the statement on behalf of all the participants before they had time to express their positions. Paris therefore knew full well that nothing new would come out of the famous conference, which rather served as a photocall for Emmanuel Macron, seen shaking many hands with heads of state.
The content of the document does not add anything new. "We, the participants, reaffirm our full respect for the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya", we can read. Twenty-five paragraphs follow which attribute to the international community a list of European diplomatic victories which resembles a rewriting of history. The participants, in the press release, indeed welcome "the progress made towards restoring peace and stability in Libya since the Berlin Conference on Libya". Gold, Berlin was a failure, which had no other effect than to discredit the delegates of the Libyan Forum and to put the interests of the Western powers before the interests of the Libyan people.
The document then mentions the “free, inclusive and credible” legislative and presidential elections scheduled for December 24. According to the statement, 2,8 million Libyans would have registered on the electoral roll - there were more than 3,5 million voters in 2014. And as if complacency was not enough, the statement called "the Libyan parties" to rely on "the good offices of UNSMIL" to "strengthen mutual confidence and build consensus". Astonishing when we know the difficulties of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya.
The utopia of a happy ending
Sad irony of fate: the Elysée, author of this press release, congratulates the MANUL for its plans "For the development of legislation against violence against women", in a Libya where UNSMIL soldiers, as well as those of the candidate of France and his allies - Khalifa Haftar - are accused of thousands of cases of rape and of slavery.
So much so that Pope Francis has openly called on European authorities to stop sending illegal migrants back to Libya, where they risk being "tortured or worse". This does not prevent the final communiqué from "thanking the Libyan authorities for their cooperation" in the migrant repatriation flights, which the Elysee describes as "voluntary humanitarian evacuation".
All that for this ? In addition to the many debatable points written in this river press release, it is above all the conclusion that surprises. The document indeed asserts that conference participants are "Sure" about a "peaceful" boom in the elections. In a country where, according to UN figures, 17 million weapons of war are in circulation, for a population of 7 million people, it is bad knowledge of the situation in Libya.