Representatives from both of Libya’s dueling governments showed up in Shirkat, Morocco, today to sign an agreement to implement a national unity government. Here are the details:
Under the deal, a nine-member presidential council will form a government with the current, eastern-based House of Representatives as the main legislative [body] and a State Council as a second consultative chamber. The presidential council will name a new government in a month and a U.N. Security Council resolution will endorse it.
The State Council should mostly be made up of the General National Congress, the alternative, Islamist-dominated government currently operating out of Tripoli. Both it and the legislative body (i.e., the government operating out of Tobruk) are supposed to remain in place no longer than two years, at which point, presumably, new elections will seat a truly democratic legislature.
Good news, yes? Well…
The real work to achieve a peace deal is very much still to come.
Last time we visited these Libyan negotiations, there was a suggestion that the GNC’s representative at the talks didn’t actually represent the GNC. That doesn’t seem to have been correct, exactly, although it’s not clear (from the reporting I’ve seen) how many representatives from the Tripoli government were present in Morocco today for the signing ceremony. But the concern now runs much deeper, and it has to do with whether any of the representatives at the talks and at this signing can actually be said to represent anyone back in Libya. Already, the leaders of both the Tobruk and Tripoli parliaments have said they will reject this deal, which, I’m guessing, is not a great sign.
Even if the two parliaments were to ratify the agreement, even if they ratified it unanimously, that still wouldn’t be the biggest step in ending the war. That’s going to be the effort to convince the people doing the actual fighting to accept the deal and end the shooting war. In theory, sure, those fighters work for their respective governments, but in practice? Libya is in a state of near-anarchy, and these guys have all the guns, so you tell me who’s really in charge.
The really hard work actually comes after everybody agrees to a deal in theory, when it comes time to form that interim government and actually try to run the country. But things aren’t even close to that point yet. Today’s agreement is a step in the right direction, but not a terribly big one.
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