Rival sides met Wednesday in Geneva for the first meeting of the political track in the UN-sponsored peace process. However, just hours later, the Tripoli-based High Council of State, part of the GNA, sent a letter to the UN demanding to suspend the talks until “concrete progress is made” in the parallel military track. The UN is also hosting a third economic track that has already met a few times.
At the same time, the Tobruk-based House of Representatives, which backs the LNA, also requested to postpone the talks.
It was not clear if the talks would begin at all, as representatives from either side objected to the “last minute inclusion” of independent politicians as a part of the Tripoli delegation. “We stress our agreement to choosing the group of additional representatives...to ensure it represents a cross section of Libyan society,” said the High Council of State letter. The Tobruk HoR said it was suspending its participation due to the UN’s failure to respond to its questions and concerns regarding the independent participants, dialogue process and duration.
UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, updating the UN Security Council later, said the Tobruk delegation did not arrive, and urged member states to pressure the delegation to attend the talks.
Earlier this week, in the military track dialogue, representatives managed to agree on a draft for a cease-fire deal which they took to their political leaderships to review. The draft discusses returning thousands of displaced civilians to their homes in Tripoli, but falls short of dealing with more contentious issues such as pulling back LNA forces out of Tripoli or disbanding GNA militias.
Peace talks continue slowly despite ongoing low-intensity clashes and continued flow of arms and fighters into Libya; despite that the regional and international powers pledged to end this in Berlin in late January.