The government of national unity in Libya, headed by Abdul Hamid al-Dabaiba, formally assumed its duties after taking the constitutional oath before Parliament, representing the third step on the road to establishing stability that the country has not known since the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, but challenges remain.
The government of national unity took the oath in the city of Tobruk, and Prime Minister Abdul Hamid al-Dabaiba said while taking the oath in front of parliament representatives, “I swear by God Almighty that I will perform my duties with all honesty and sincerity,” and the government will replace the Government of National Accord that was recognized by the United Nations in Tripoli and the northwest Libya, and also the place of its rival administration, which was operating from the east of the country.
It is expected that Dabaiba will take over the headquarters of the Council of Ministers today, Tuesday, March 16, from Al-Sarraj, so that the company of his ministers will start their duties from the capital, Tripoli, across the whole country, for the first time since 2014, and the interim government (not internationally recognized) loyal to General Khalifa Haftar, which controls The Eastern Province is also obligated to hand over headquarters and institutions under its control to the unity government.
Arab and international welcome to the third step
Arab and international parties welcomed this step, which Libyans hope will be the beginning of the end of the conflict that has torn their country for many years. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the Libyan move, describing it as an important step towards restoring unity, stability, security and prosperity in Libya. According to his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
The United Nations Mission in Libya also expressed its happiness with the decision, and said that Libya has a real opportunity to move forward to restore its sovereignty. The US State Department also issued a statement in which it considered this development an essential step towards the completion of the road map for the Libyan political dialogue, calling on all parties to respect the United Nations resolution on the arms embargo and the end of foreign interference.
For its part, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation congratulated the new government and the Libyan people for the decision, expressing hope that this important step will pave the way. For further steps towards reconciliationAnd laying the foundations for peace, security, stability and development throughout Libya. The Saudi Foreign Ministry also welcomed the decision of the Libyan House of Representatives, describing it as an important historical step that would achieve security and stability.
Egypt appreciated the role of the Council in assuming its responsibilities and upholding the supreme interest of the state of Libya, to move forward towards Libya’s restoration of its stability, security and sovereignty, in a way that relieves suffering Brother Libyan peopleIn a statement, the Jordanian Foreign Ministry praised the importance of this step in resolving the Libyan crisis, stressing the Kingdom’s position in support of the efforts that seek a political solution that protects the capabilities of Libya and its people. Tunisia also expressed its deep satisfaction at what it described as the historic achievement made today in Libya.
The government, formed through a dialogue process organized by the United Nations and approved by parliament last week in Sirte, is the best hope in years for ending a decade of chaos in Libya since an uprising backed by NATO toppled With Muammar Gaddafi Of judgment.
Among the attendees at the time of the government’s swearing-in were diplomats from Western countries and from Turkey, which supported the Government of National Accord, and from Egypt that supported Khalifa Haftar, the reconciliation government’s opponent in the war, commander of eastern Libya’s forces, while neither Russia nor the UAE sent diplomats to attend the swearing-in. But they publicly welcomed the appointment of the new government, and both countries backed Khalifa Haftar.
The first step on the road to a peaceful settlement in Libya was the election of the Forum for Political Dialogue to a new presidential council headed by Muhammad al-Manfi and the head of the Unity Government (Dabaiba), on February 5, and the second step was the meeting of 133 deputies in the parliament in its two parts (Tripoli and Tobruk). In the city of Sirte (center) for the first time since 2016, they gave confidence to the unity government headed by Abdul Hamid al-Dabaiba, with a majority of 132 deputies.
Positive indicators towards the stability of Libya
Observers considered that the House of Representatives being able to meet again in Tobruk to host the ceremony of taking the constitutional oath of the Dabaiba government gave a good signal that Parliament had turned the page of division, which would make the parliament’s tasks related to preparing the election law successful and ratifying the draft constitution before submitting it to a referendum, which would facilitate Of government work.
The election of a new presidential council led by exile, the swearing in of the unity government, and the recognition of all parties to the conflict are historic steps towards stabilizing peace and stability in the country, and getting out of the ceasefire phase.
However, talk of Libya’s transition towards a sustainable stage of stability remains difficult in light of the division of the military establishment, the proliferation of uncontrolled militias and foreign mercenaries in the country, the lack of clearance of mines, the continuation of the prisoner file, the closure of roads between the regions, and the occurrence of acts of looting and extrajudicial killing.
The deterioration of the security situation in the city of Benghazi (east), which is under the control of Haftar’s militia, prompted the House of Representatives to transfer the session of the members of the government to take the oath from its constitutional headquarters in the city to Tobruk, and this was evident in a statement by the notables of Cyrenaica (east), which called for an investigation into all acts of assassinations and violations. The kidnapping in Benghazi, led by the kidnapping of Representative Siham Sergewa, the revelation of secret prisons in Cyrenaica, and the expulsion of all military formations from the city, according to an Anadolu Agency report.
Despite official support from the two main conflict parties for the unity government and the holding of elections, major obstacles remain, most notably that some areas and some state institutions are still under the domination of many armed factions, according to Reuters.
However, the security and political conditions in the country are gradually improving, compared to what they were before June 2020, when the state of military balance forced the two parties to the conflict to cease the engagement. The status of “neither war nor peace” was reinforced by a historic ceasefire agreement on 23 October 2020, which has remained steadfast until now despite some violations of Haftar’s militias.
Consolidation of the military establishment
But the most important positive indicator is that the Libyan military establishment, which is divided into two parts, now has one commander, represented in the Presidential Council with its three members, and a defense minister represented by the head of the unity government, even if only temporarily.
Although the unification of the military establishment is still symbolic, Haftar’s recognition of the legitimacy of the new presidential council, that he is the supreme commander of the army and his acceptance of submission to civilian authority, constitutes an important step towards ending the division.
Haftar’s refusal in 2016 to submit his militias to civilian authority caused the continuation of the division and disrupted the process of giving parliament confidence to the Government of National Accord, and even launched an attack on Tripoli in April 2019, to try to overthrow the Presidency Council led by Fayez al-Sarraj by force, but it failed in the end. .
Dabaiba avoided falling into the trap of appointing a defense minister affiliated with either of the parties to the conflict, to avoid the affected party’s disavowal of the unity government’s support, so he kept the defense portfolio for himself, to take more time and consult with members of the Presidency Council about the appropriate personality for this position. The 5 + 5 joint military committee plays the most prominent role in the process of unifying the army, removing mines, opening roads, exchanging prisoners and removing mercenaries, and the head of the unity government promised to support its efforts.
Reconciliation in Libya needs time
In his speech during the government’s swearing-in ceremony, the exiled admitted that they could not “reach a final reconciliation at the end of the year,” but he made clear that their goal is to “form the nucleus for this reconciliation” and establish it, to reach elections on December 24 next year, to hand over power For whom the people choose in the next stage.
Therefore, talk of final stability is still premature, unless reconciliation between the people’s spectrum, especially the western and eastern regions, is completed, especially as the internal and international political climate is ready to accept it.
Aqila Saleh, the Speaker of the Tobruk Parliament, who is considered one of the poles of the crisis allied with Haftar, said recently that “the time has come to tolerate, shake hands, reconcile and move beyond the past,” and he called for “reconciliation, building the nation and providing the opportunity for everyone without exclusion or marginalization, and focusing on achieving security and justice to achieve Stability “.
This atmosphere, which is dominated by the reconciliation discourse, provides the basis for the unity government to work in the three regions of the country without restrictions, and to unify the country’s sovereign institutions, on top of which is Parliament, the Central Bank and the National Oil Corporation.
This paves the way for the unification of the army, the dismantling of the militias and the assimilation of their members within the security and military institutions, the removal of the Wagner mercenaries and the Janjaweed, the opening of roads between the provinces, and the release of prisoners and kidnappers, as well as clearing the way for the security establishment to focus on fighting crime under the supervision of the judicial institution, which opens the way for the rule of law and the achievement of security Justice and stability.
But all of this requires time, to accept the appeal to the ballot boxes instead of resolving disputes with rifle bullets, by electing a president and parliament, and getting out of the tunnel of the transitional stages.