Libyan efforts to transfer Geneva talks to Djerba or Tabarka

Libyan parties are underway to have the next round of the Libyan political dialogue, initially scheduled this month in Geneva, Switzerland, transferred to Tunisia.

This comes as regional and international political moves are intensifying to provide the foundations for a settlement to the Libyan.

The diplomatic sources told The Arab Weekly that these efforts outside the limelight have achieved tangible progress after Tunisia informed the Libyan parties that it supports all their moves and will provide them with the right conditions to reach an inter-Libyan solution away from foreign interventions and agendas that have deprived Libya of its sovereignty and made it a target for expansionist ambitions.

The UN Support Mission in Libya and its Acting Head, Stephanie Williams, are betting on the resumption of this dialogue, which was suspended following the resignation of the former UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salamé, last March.

This next session of the inter-Libyan talks aims at reaching understandings regarding the form of the new authority in Libya, as it is scheduled to discuss the separation of the executive authority from the Presidency Council, and the reduction of the members of the Presidency Council from nine members to only three.

The Arab Weekly sources pointed out that the consultations currently underway between the Libyan and Tunisian sides focus on where to hold this anticipated round of the Libyan dialogue, as some push for it to be on the island of Djerba in south-eastern Tunisia near the Libyan border, while others push towards choosing the tourist resort in the city of Tabarka in north-western Tunisia.

Libyan Parliament Member Ismail al-Sharif, confirmed the existence of these efforts and consultations, which he described as serious, and said that national Libyan parties are carrying them out on the basis of expanding the platforms for Libyan dialogue, and not restricting them to one side without others, by involving the rest of the neighbouring countries in the efforts aimed at finding a political solution to the Libyan crisis.

In a telephone conversation with The Arab Weekly, Sharif said that the parties concerned with these endeavours represent all Libyan regions, and aim through their moves to balance things out by giving a role to Tunisia, especially during this period of inter-Libyan talks in the Egyptian city of Hurghada and in the Moroccan town of Bouznika.

He pointed out that contacts had taken place with the Tunisian side, which expressed its willingness to host this new round of Libyan dialogue in one of the Tunisian cities, and expected in this context that it was going to be on the island of Djerba, given its proximity to Libya, the relative ease of securing it, and its available infrastructure that is perfect for shielding the talks from the limelight.

MP Jibril Ouhaida welcomed these efforts, saying that Tunisia remains the closest to Libyans. He explained to The Arab Weekly that this next round of talks, whether held in Tunis or Geneva, is sponsored by the United Nations and its sessions will be conducted according to the outcomes of the Berlin Conference and the committees emerging from it, i.e. 13 + 13, indicating that what is important are the results of these talks that will be welcomed if they are in the national interest and removed from the quota system.

Earlier reports in Libyan media talked about moving the Geneva talks to the Tunisian island of Djerba, due to some obstacles faced by members of the Libyan delegations, mainly related to the issuance of entry visas to Switzerland. But it is the first time that two Libyan parliamentarians and Tunisian diplomatic sources confirm this news.

According to diplomatic sources who spoke to The Arab Weekly, the Tunisian side, which is very much interested in hosting the talks, believes that moving the Libyan scene forward will enable Tunisia to play a role in the Libyan crisis by pushing for the quick implementation of the outcomes of the settlement process, a role that has Algeria’s support.

The sources indicated that this support was expressed by Algerian Foreign Minister, Sabri Boukadoum, during his quick visit to Tunisia last week. A statement issued by the Tunisian presidency said that during Boukadoum’s visit “it was agreed to continue the joint efforts to push the path of a political solution away from foreign interference, through a comprehensive and constructive dialogue between the Libyans themselves in order to preserve Libya’s security, unity and sovereignty.”

Between September 7 and 9, the Swiss city of Montreux hosted inter-Libyan talks aimed at agreeing on a road map that paves the way for the Geneva dialogue scheduled for the middle of this month, at a time when a first round of inter-Libyan talks was being held in the Moroccan city of Bouznika, which coincided with a Libyan security and military dialogue in the Egyptian city of Hurghada.

Participants in the Bouznika talks resumed the second round of their consultations, amid an atmosphere of optimism, as expressed by Libyan MP Idris Omran, who confirmed that the Bouznika talks will continue with the aim of reaching a “comprehensive consensus” regarding the distribution of the sovereign positions in accordance with Article 15 of the Skhirat Agreement.

In light of these developments, a high-level ministerial meeting on Libya is scheduled to be held today, Monday, via video-conferencing, at the United Nations headquarters in New York. This meeting will be headed by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, with the participation of all parties to the Berlin conference, as well as the Libyan parties.

It is expected that during this meeting, which comes in the context of following up on the outcomes of the Berlin Conference of last January 18, the participants will renew their commitment to the outcomes of the Berlin Conference and their implementation, and will call upon the concerned parties to accelerate ceasefire efforts, and committo the arms embargo imposed on Libya, in addition to supporting the United Nations role of facilitating the political process in Libya.

Arab Observer

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