Transcript of SRSG Bernardino Leon Press Conference in Tripoli, Libya, 08 December 2014

Editorial Comment:
The UN/UNSMIL Has No Legitimate Mandate in Libya
Statement from the Conference of Libyan Tribes and Cities
LPNM Press Release

LEON:We have just finished a long, fruitful meeting, where we have been discussing the proposal for a new round of talks between different representatives of the Libyan people, the Libyan society the Libyan institutions in order to overcome the crisis in this country.

In the meeting tonight, we have agreed on some important points to make possible this dialogue. First of all, the key principle, the only solution to the Libyan crisis is a political settlement. There is no solution through military means. There is no solution through fighting.

This solution should come as a result of consensus between different actors, political and social. In the meeting tonight, it was clear that the personalities that will attend this meeting will have different views, different positions about what is the institutional situation in Libyan but with one joint target which is overcoming the crisis through a political agreement.

So this dialogue should be based on respect and we have agreed tonight that this respect will mean that the representatives from this House will be attending the dialogue considering themselves as representatives of the GNC and representatives of the Speaker of the GNC. But they will accept that in these talks there will be people with different views, there will be representatives from the House of Representatives that consider themselves the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people. The essence of this dialogue should be respect for the views of each one and a common wish to reach consensus and a common target to reach a political settlement.

We have discussed the main elements that could be part of this dialogue, mainly to begin with agreeing on a national unity government, agreeing on steps to stabilize the situation in the country, which should include a ceasefire, should include weapons control and militias leaving cities, the airports and leaving the main the main public spaces to contribute to the normalization of the country.

We have discussed different elements regarding this dialogue but we could not finalize our discussions. It has been a long and intense meeting. As you know, because of technical problems with my airplane I had to arrive later to Tripoli. So we have agreed also to continue discussing these details in the coming days.

As you know, the intention of the United Nations was to organize this meeting throughout this week.  However, in order to discuss these details with the different parties involved, as you know or as you may know, I will be traveling tomorrow to Tobruk. We have decided to give us a little bit more time. Instead of starting by the end of this week, we will start the talks at the beginning of the coming week.

We are convinced and this has been very clear in the meeting tonight that that with these two or three more days we will finalize all the details and hopefully we will have fruitful meetings next week. We will discuss these elements of the agenda and may be, maybe if all the participants wish and if all the Libyans wish, there will be a hope to overcoming politically the crisis in this country.

Let me commend the spirit of this meeting, the spirit of the people we have been discussing with tonight because they have expressed generosity and they have expressed they are ready to go very open-minded to this meeting next week. And respecting the principles of a democratic Libya, respecting the principles of the constitutional declaration, respecting the principles of legitimacy and inclusions, the principles we have been working with in the last weeks they are ready to attend these meeting and to try to finds solutions with people they know that they have different views and different positions. But what is important is to find the elements of agreement and to start constructing a peaceful Libya on the basis of these elements of consensus.

Question: Policy change on GNC?

LEON: Let me say, first of all, that I think it is important you remind of the beginning of the Ghedames process. We call the new round of talks Ghedames 2 . I don’t know but we still have to discuss some of the details and whether this Ghedames 2 talks will take place in Ghedames or not. Tomorrow, I will have to travel to Tobruk to discuss many details there …

I think it’s important to remember that the first dialogue started in the House of Representatives and we all agreed that the ruling of the court implies changes in the country… There are people who accept the ruling and people who don’t accept it. But the ruling has consequences. First of all, the so-called boycotters in the House have accepted the ruling of the court. They don’t consider themselves MPs of the House of Representatives. But equally there is very important group of MPs of this House, the GNC, that they don’t accept the ruling of the court. So you have now these two houses where an important part of the MPs disagree with the majority.

So this decision provokes changes. And we had discussions with people attending the Ghedames talks and we propose to include other political actors, the House of Representatives has its views and principles which have been stated. They don’t give up what they consider their key principles – representation, legitimacy, importance of the elections. Same as tonight we could hear what are the key principles frame which the other side that will represent the GNC. They also don’t give up on their principles.

But what is important here is to have a dialogue where each one has views and they respect the views of the others. They respect that other interlocutors in this dialogue will have different views, different positions and some of them will even will be contradictory. But what is important in agreement here is that they will try to find elements of agreement in the first stage, on these elements I mentioned before – the unity government, the steps stabilizing the situation in the country through ceasefire, through weapons control, through militias leaving cities, the airports and the public spaces, and on the basis of these elements maybe it will be possible to overcome other institutional issues in the future. If all this is possible we may be in a position in which the constitution in Libya might be approved, where the conditions will be met for this constitution to reunite all Libyans again.

Question: It seems with UN calls for dialogue and fighting on ground and power in hands of armed groups … how can we have a meeting of dialogue and end the crisis when the UN can stop the air raids and doesn’t do that. Is there any plan on your side to include the armed groups in the dialogue?

LEON: These airstrikes, all armed actions, all violations of the ceasefire should stop. I think the United Nations has been very clear when it comes to the airstrikes. They may affect civilian areas. We know very well that these airplanes can be very inaccurate. We have condemned in the strongest terms these airstrikes and we hope that when we have the possibility to start a political process all parties will do their utmost to support this political process.

Do we think that the armed groups should be part of this dialogue? Of course, it will not be possible to overcome the Libyan crisis unless we have a process in which all parties engage, all parties that can take important decisions. This dialogue intends to agree on a security framework that will also be a very important part of this settlement, and this will include a ceasefire, as I said before, the weapons regime – controlling weapons arriving to this country, this is one of the countries in the world with more weapons, this has to stop – that will include the militias leaving the cities and the airports and contributing to this normalization which is fundamental.

All this, of course, has to be done through the involvement of all the armed groups, except the ones that have been declared terrorist groups. Obviously, Ansar Al-Sharia is not going to be part of this dialogue. The rest of the armed groups should be involved, should be part of this dialogue, should share the final conclusions. And hopefully they will contribute together with other key actors, political parties and the people involved in this dialogue to overcome the crisis.

This was always the intention of the Ghedames dialogue. When we proposed to start these talks, maybe you remember we published in the webpage of UNSMIL that there should be two parallel dialogues, one the political one and the other one the security, that the goals of the security dialogue could be similar to the ones we have exposed tonight. It is impossible to have a political agreement if there is no ceasefire, if there is no stabilization and normalization in the cities and we said we will conduct these talks under the principles that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So we are now reinforcing these views and unfortunately the previous talks were interrupted when the decision of the court changed the political landscape in this country. It was a promising dialogue but we understood we had to introduce changes and hopefully we will be able to address now in parallel, keeping all the different actors simultaneously involved to address the crisis, because the situation today is more complicate than it was a few weeks ago. Fighting is getting very bad in Benghazi. Fighting is getting more complicate in Nafusa mountains. There is a sense of urgency, a sense of addressing as soon as possible all these issues.

Question: Dignity Operation and HoR statements setting difficult demands, how can be dialogue successful in such conditions? You mentioned respect for Libyan decisions, how do you see your respect for the High Court Ruling?

LEON: What is important is that Libyans can meet making clear what are their principles, aspirations and views. So if the different people involved in these meetings have different views but they are able to agree on some basic elements to start to overcome crisis they are welcome. I think the key here is not what everyone thinks of the representation, what they the different institutions represent, it’s their capacity to reach agreements with others. We are not asking anyone to attend the meetings giving up their principles.  I think this is a key component. The United Nations cannot impose solutions. It is the Libyans altogether should agree on these elements. And I think it is possible. As I said there are elements where I think the different actors could agree and there are elements where will probably be more difficult and it will take more time to reach agreement.

Regarding the second question I think what is important is not what the different actors of the international community think or don’t think. What is important is what the Libyans think. Here what we we are trying to achieve – and this is the role of the United Nations as facilitators – that is to help bring the people around the table. The United Nations is not here to judge. It is here to help facilitate these talks and hopefully reach a situation in which Libyans could agree on these basic principles to go back to the democratic transition and to agree on these key components of the Libyan political life: institutions, separation of powers, judicial decisions, democracy, all this. But we are not yet there. It is going to take some time.

Let’s focus on supporting the Libyans to overcome the crisis. I am convinced that what the Libyan people are telling us, all of us, the people involved in this process, is to find solutions through consensus that will bring peace to this country. This is what is really important.

And if I say that this is what is important it is because what I mean is that this agreement where the different sectors of the society, all the citizens agree on a basic system, on the institutions, on the rights, it is called constitution. And what Libya needs at this stage is to be given the time and conditions to continue in this difficult transition and to agree on a constitution that can reunite again all the Libyans.

UNSMIL: Libyan-Owned Dialogue Process Aims to Reach Consensus on Ending Security, Political Crisis

08 December 2014 – Building on concerted efforts to stem the on-going violence in Libya and bring about a peaceful resolution of the current political crisis that would spare the Libyan people further strife, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has over the past few weeks undertaken intense consultations with all the major stakeholders to create a conducive environment for the proposed dialogue talks which the Mission had earlier announced its intention to convene on 9 December.

As UNSMIL has reiterated on numerous occasions, dialogue is first and foremost a Libyan necessity, and remains the most viable and effective means of addressing with a view to ending the deepening political polarization and raging military hostilities. A spirit of compromise and consensus will be key to ensuring a successful dialogue that lays the ground for a stable and secure Libya.

Decisions should be taken by the Libyans after a wide debate, for which the new dialogue session will only be a first gathering. A process should start and the participants in this dialogue should have the opportunity to consult further with their constituencies before decisions are taken.

UNSMIL has stressed to all that there will be no conditions attached to the dialogue, and that the primary objective will be to reach agreement on the management of the remainder of the transitional period, until such time that a new permanent constitution is adopted. In particular, discussions will focus on finding consensual solutions to the on-going institutional crisis in the country. It is envisaged that these proposals can form the basis for further discussions and consultations outside the immediate framework of the proposed dialogue, and if deemed acceptable to the relevant constituencies, form the basis of a comprehensive political agreement.

In addition to the relevant stakeholders, the proposed dialogue will provide a forum for the country’s political parties and tribal forces, as well as leaders of the armed groups, to be active partners in the search for consensual solutions.

The proposed dialogue will also seek to put in place the necessary security arrangements in order to bring an end to the armed hostilities raging in different parts of the country. In this regard, the dialogue will aim to identify and agree on mechanisms for the monitoring and implementation of a ceasefire, and for the withdrawal of all armed groups from cities and towns across Libya, as well as from vital state installations and facilities as a first step towards enabling the State to assume full responsibility for their control and security.

Throughout its consultations, UNSMIL has made it clear to all the parties that its role will remain limited to the facilitation of the proposed dialogue, and ensuring conducive conditions for its conduct whereby all the parties are able to interact positively and constructively, and to reach a consensual agreement at the earliest opportunity. UNSMIL’s facilitation of the proposed dialogue is undertaken on the firm understanding that the dialogue process itself and its outcomes will remain Libyan-owned, and will in no way prejudice the Mission’s own absolute commitment to Libya’s sovereignty and independence.

In this regard, UNSMIL categorically refutes all recent allegations made in the media with respect to purported leaked documents or agreements relating to the outcomes of the proposed dialogue. These allegations aim to cast doubt on this dialogue as the only means to resolve the current crisis instead of the continuing fighting and political-economic difficulties.

At this critical juncture of Libya’s transition, and so that the proposed dialogue does not become another wasted opportunity, UNSMIL appeals to all parties to approach the proposed dialogue with a spirit of objectivity and conciliation, and to uphold their country’s national interest as the surest safeguard for preserving its unity and territorial integrity, and avoiding further bloodshed.