A new round of the UN-brokered Libya Dialogue negotiations will begin next Monday, the United Nations Special Mission to Libya (UNSMIL) has announced.
No location has been announced for the talks although they are likely to be again the Moroccan resort of Skhirat or, possibly, in Algeria.
Both countries have played host to negotiation sessions in recent months.
The so-called Leon Plan, now effectively in its fifth draft and which was approved last month by all the delegates to the Dialogue apart from those from the continuing Tripoli-based General National Congress (GNC), plans a new Government of National Accord which would include members representing key factions across the Libyan political firmament.
The latest Dialogue round is to discuss and chose names for the posts of Prime Minister and the two Deputy Prime Ministers. Once chosen, they will then select government ministers in cooperation with the Dialogue members.
Although there seems to be consensus on the role and powers of the new government, there has been friction over how legislative powers should be divided. The HoR would remain the primary legislature, but HoR members objected to Draft Four of the Leon Plan which had powers being given to a State Council, made up largely of former GNC members.
HoR members are much happier with the fifth draft which downgrades the State Council to an advice-only body, but unsurprisingly the GNC has said no.
UN Special envoy Bernadino Leon has already tried – so far unsuccessfully – to persuade the GNC to endorse the proposed power-sharing plan. But it is now boycotting the proceedings and, if anything, appears to be hardening its position.
Leon has tried throughout the summer to win consensus and, having last month won outline support for the Draft from the House of Representatives and a number of other bodies including the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party, a week ago he met leaders of the GNC in Algiers to try and bring them back on board the process as well. It did not work.
It now appears that, just as he decided last month to go ahead with the initialing of the Draft without the GNC, so too he is going ahead with choice of prime minister and the two deputies without them as well.
The new round of talks will take Leon closer to the one-year anniversary of the start of his attempts to mediate peace in September last year, and his office this week sounded a cautious note.
“SRSG Leon acknowledges that while some of the parties continue to have reservations about what has been achieved to date, it is important for all parties to continue working on jointly addressing and resolving these concerns within the framework of the dialogue process,” said a statement from his office.
“Mr Leon is urging the main parties to redouble their efforts and continue working together towards narrowing existing differences and forging a common platform that can form the basis for a peaceful resolution of the political and military conflict in Libya.”
A second issue the next round of talks must resolve is which units will form the new Libyan security forces and who leads them, because all other forces would be required to disband.
As summer gives way to autumn Leon’s plan will also face a legitimacy problem, with the HoR, elected in June last year, seeing its original mandate expiring in October. A proposed extension of that mandate without elections would risk undermining the democracy Leon says must underpin any agreement.
Meanwhile there are growing rumours in Brussels that he is growing increasingly tired and frustrated with the process and is thinking of returning to Spanish politics.