By Abdullah Alkabir, a Libyan political writer and commentator
Despite consensus among major powers of the UN Security Council on the Special Envoy of UN Secretary-General to Libya, after a long dispute and rejection of several personalities nominated by the Secretary-General, the Senegalese Abdoulaye Bathily has not yet begun to exercise his duties. The reason may be due to his need for some time to see thoroughly all aspects of the crisis, its developments, and the appropriate approaches to employ, as well as the experiences of former envoys and the reasons for their failures, before embarking on dealing with it, and most importantly preparing for an acceptable initiative that can gain approval of the parties to the conflict, and mobilize international support for it before starting its implementation.
While, the political parties are awaiting international positions through what the new envoy will present, the speaker of the House of Representatives presented an initiative that would place him at the helm of a new Presidential Council (PC), with his acceptance of Abdel Hamid Dbeibah to remain as prime minister, and according to press reports, the head of the High Council of State would be deputy for the western region at the PC, and another deputy from the south.
The speaker of the House of Representatives presented his initiative to some regional parties, to which he has long been hostile, such as Turkey and Qatar, and until recently classifying them as countries supporting terrorism, but there are no indications that he has obtained the required support. This is because Aqila Saleh's moves fall within the scope of the developments of the Egyptian position, and there has been no tangible progress so far in all aspects of the Turkey and Egypt dispute.
The initiative, however, including Agila’s acceptance of the continuation of the Dbeibah’s government, means that he does not object to the termination of the Bashagha government, if the price is rewarding, which is the re-formation of the Presidential Council to take over himself its presidency, this promoted Bashagha and Hafter to dust off their alliance and prepare for the new possible alliance between Agila and Dbeibah.
In the last session of the House of Representatives, Aqila Saleh attacked the Presidential Council, accusing it of bias and impartiality, pointing out that the presidential powers did not include the issuance of a constitutional rule and laws for elections. He had even accused the Head of the PC, Menfi of standing behind the events that led to the setting of the HoR on fire. Agila’s statements against the PC were interpreted as a preparation to declare his desire publicly to head a new PC, which means that he did not lose hope completely in terms of the acceptance of his initiative as a political settlement that eventually leads to elections.
President of the Presidential Council, Menfi avoided clash with Aqila, and he did not issue statements or counter positions, but he did not take long to respond in his own way, in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly, where he reaffirmed the Presidential Council's readiness to intervene and end the crisis.
According to press reports, the major countries supporting the elections will give the presidents of the House of Representatives and the High Council of State a last chance to agree on the constitutional basis and election laws, within a specified period, and if they fail, the matter will be referred to the Presidential Council.
Recent joint statement by Western countries, following a meeting of their senior officials during which the Libyan crisis was discussed, affirmed support for the new envoy and for the UN mediation to lay a constitutional basis for the elections. The statement included an agreement on a unified executive body with a mandate that focuses on preparing for elections. This is the first time that a practical proposal has been referred to that could contribute to removing some obstacles, addressing part of the concerns, and facilitating the path towards elections.
The proposed body will not be a third government, its mandate, according to the statement, is for elections only. Two days later, the US envoy to Libya, Ambassador Norland, stated that "What we need now is a general agreement on a fully legitimate government, and this will only happen through elections." Thus, it can be said that the international position is working to close all doors leading to extension of the transitional phase through political settlement deals, and will not support any initiative on power sharing, through the formation of a consensual government between the conflicting parties.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Libya Observer