Libya’s PM announces resignation when UN peace talks resume

Wed 12 Aug 2015

Libya’s PM announces resignation when UN peace talks resume

The prime minister of Libya's internationally recognized government made an announcement about his resignation on 11 August. PM  Abdullah al-Thinni says he will submit his resignation to the House of Representatives on 16 August. He has been in office since March 2014. In April 2014 he also announced his resignation, saying his family had been attacked, but later changed his mind and stayed on. The announcement came out when Libya Peace Talks in Geneva resumed on 11 August after the failure to reach an agreement between the internationally recognized government and Libya’s rival parliament on 11 July.

PM’s resignation
Libya's internationally recognized Prime Minister has said in a television interview that he will resign after the station confronted him with questions from angry citizens criticizing his cabinet as ineffective. He said he would step down Sunday if that was the solution the public wants.  A government spokesman said that Thinni's comments were not an official resignation. When the presenter asked Thinni what he would do if there were protests in reaction, he replied: "People do not need to protest against me because I officially resign from my position." It was unclear, however, whether Thinni's resignation was to be taken seriously, as critics have repeatedly said Thinni's cabinet put out statements that had no relevance.

Thinni has faced criticism for running an ineffective rump state in the east since losing Tripoli in August 2014 to the rival administration, which is not recognized by world powers. His cabinet, working out of hotels, had struggled to make an impact in the remote eastern city of Bayda. Libya also struggles with a public finance crisis as the chaos has cut oil production to a quarter of what the OPEC member used to pump before 2011. Citizens also complained about chaos, shortages of fuel and hospital drugs as well as a worsening security situation. Critics say Thinni's cabinet releases statements with no significance. Bengazhi lawmaker Amal Bayou called Thinni’s government an incompetent and a failure.
Worsening security situation
Libya is still stuck in a civil war and Islamic State’s (ISIS) expansion is a serious threat to the region. The lack of centralized political leadership has led to an increase of extremism in Libya. ISIS terrorists began their Libyan victory march in October 2014 and since then, a number of attacks in Libya, as well as the beheading of 21 Christians there, have been credited to ISIS. Libya is the North African forecourt of ISIS terrorists, and thus threatens the entire Maghreb region.

Two governments
Libya is bitterly divided between an internationally recognized government called  the House of Representatives (HoR) in the eastern city of Tobruk and an Islamist government known as the General National Congress (GNC) based in the capital Tripoli. HoR were forced to flee the capital, after Thinni's rivals seized the city in August 2014. The GNC had been the country's previous assembly whose mandate had ended with the election of the HoR but was reinstated by the new Tripoli rulers.

Peace Talks continue
Libyan political factions arrived in Geneva on 11 August for the resumption of UN-led peace talks, raising hopes that the partial deal reached on 11 July in Skhirat, Morocco, may be finalized over the coming weeks to put an end to the year-long civil war. U.N. envoy Bernardino León said that the participation of all members of the warring factions represents a good sign. He is urging them to vote to endorse a pact by early September. According to León, he is focusing on an attempt to persuade the parties to sing on to the unity government and he added that the political side of the negotiations was more advanced than the security aspects. The U.N. envoy also claims it is essential to have military support and to have measures for implementing security arrangements as part of the final accord.

The agreement reached in Skhirat on July 11 was signed by representatives of the HoR as well as members of the opposition and non-aligned dialogue members. It also received the blessing of several political party leaders, civil society actors and local officials, who put down their names as witnesses. The GNC  however refused to sign, arguing that the institutional design outlined in the final draft of the agreement went too far in accommodating the interests of the HoR.

Reuters, Deutsche Welle  II, Al Jazeera, Voice Of America