Comments Made by UNSMIL SRSG, Bernardino Leon, at a News Conference in Tripoli, 11 September 2014
Tripoli, 11 September 2014 - Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Bernardino Leon, held talks with politicians and influential actors in Tripoli, Zintan and Misrata on Thursday 11 September 2014. Earlier in the week, he visited Tobruk and Al-Baida. Before leaving Tripoli, he held a press conference. Below are some of his remarks:
"On the Mission, this is the second time I come here in a few days. The United Nations is listening. We are trying to assess what are the chances to go from a situation of relative calm, as we have now, to a situation in which we can really resume the political process. This is the goal today but we are not yet there.
I said relative calm because the immediate concern is that there is still fighting in some areas. As you know last night more people were killed in the Wershefana area and I would like my first remark to be a call for the people who are fighting in this area to make the ceasefire complete. This would be very important for them and this would be also very important for the whole country. To remember that whatever their differences they can be solved through negotiations and we are ready to help. Others are helping also in this regard. And they should also remember that indiscriminate shelling - and we believe there is probably indiscriminate shelling since civilians have been killed - and hostage-taking are war crimes. They should also bear in mind that this is not a small tribal fighting. The world is watching and the world would like the parties to remember that international law is something that they should take into account.
"If requested, as I said before, we are ready to help. We have given some ideas to both sides on how to overcome the situation and now that we are talking about human rights, which is of course key element for us, let me also say that we have raised in our contacts the questions of prisoners. All prisoners should be accounted for, treated properly, and in all our contacts the parties have expressed readiness to cooperate with us. This is important and it will help also to overcome the current situation."
Regarding the political track, there is a general agreement that the only solution is dialogue. And this is good. There is also a general agreement that the United Nations should help. This is what we are evaluating now, how to help, how to be useful. There is a commitment which is positive. We need this commitment, this leadership and I think this is taking shape, but as I said before we are not yet there and we will still have to work.
"So as I said there is coincidence of the need to address the current situation through negotiations through politics, the process is positive, we have seen also that there is an agreement on the main principles that should guide these talks and should guide the political process in the future. Legitimacy, respect for the constitutional declaration and for the procedures established in that declaration, commitment to the democratic principles, a very clear rejection of terrorism. But obviously there is still some distance for some actors, this should be easier, for others this is more difficult. There is still more work to do. The United Nations will continue to come in the coming days. We have reiterated our calls for legitimacy to be a key guideline in the process but also for inclusion."
What is important is that parties keep working internally and keep elaborating on how to reach a House of Representatives, which is the legitimate body to represent all the Libyans, to really represent all the Libyans and all the Libyans will feel part of the process., will feel fully participating and fully respected, and national unity government that will represent all the Libyans. These are the main goals and this is what we are trying to do in this context and this is what we will try to do in the coming days.
I also visited the Constitution-Drafting Assembly in Albaida. We believe that the constitution is cornerstone in this process. It is important to continue working on the constitution and the United Nations is also contributing to this task, and we have discussed with Mr. Tarhouni how to support in a more effective way. .. In the coming weeks we will expedite this cooperation and hopefully not far from now we will have a good constitution in Libya which is another important element that would unite all Libyans and in which all Libyans should take part.
We had detailed talks. I had the opportunity to have discussions with both sides. But clearly the handover of the GNC to the House of Representatives is one of the issues. It poses a number of questions. What happens with the decisions, with the declarations that have already been made by the HoR, some of them are particularly concerning the people here in Tripoli and in other cities and are not necessarily constructive in terms of what we are trying to do to go back to the political process. To tell you the truth I am more worried about the elements of legitimacy and inclusiveness, how to find a balance between the two elements, about the House of Representatives and about the questions of procedures. I think if substantial issues, key political issues are properly addressed, I don’t think there should be much difficulties in solving the procedural issues.
Another positive element is that everybody agrees that having two governments in the country, having GNC temporary in place to hand over the authority, parliamentarian and legislative powers, to the House of Representatives, whatever you describe the situation is not positive, is not the best situation for Libya. It is complicating things. So everybody agrees that time is very important; this is something that should be solved as soon as possible.
The situation is also fragile. We know that the possibilities for this stability to be interrupted by more fighting by different sorts of problems is high. We are also concerned about time. This is why we will come back soon and we will continue with these exchanges.
I think there is a difference between saying that the only solution for this country is political process and negotiations and that fighting will stop. This is a key element because this fighting in Wershefana and the possibility to have more fighting in the east, etc.
I think people know very well different responsibles for these attacks and these statements this is not going to solve the situation in this country. I will also be very clear in this regard that.
There is a Security Council resolution which states very clearly that more use of force is not acceptable in Libya, that the only possibilities are the political process and that whoever challenges these principles should know that there would be consequences.
The people in Libya supporting any leadership, supporting any side have questions and anger and concerns about many different issues. But I am sure that the wish for politicians and different leaders to reach political consensus, to find through dialogue solutions is more important than any other position. I will also be very clear on this point, we are not accepting any reference to the pressure from the street, the pressure from the public opinion. We know it is true, this is complicated issue. But on top of any other concern we think that the people want peace and want a democratic process to be back in Libya.
I would like to enhance the positive role that the media can and must play in this process. I think this is very important and all media could contribute greatly to these efforts, peace efforts.
I did not meet officially members of the GNC. We have daily contact we try to make contact with everybody to listen to many different points but on this trip we didn't meet members of the GNC. Let me reiterate that we don’t think however the reasons need to address different questions , legislative or executive, that duplicating the institutions in this country is a good idea. I think will further complicate the question of legitimacy which is a key principle to be respected by everyone in Libya and outside Libya.
The concern of the international community and the United Nations about terrorism is very important and should not be neglected by anyone. All my interlocutors in Libya agree that this is a very serious problem.
I agree that the al-Qaida and the extreme Jihadists in the east are very serious problem, for this country and the international community.
I think this is important to enhance that this is an element of concern for everyone and that chaos in this country is an enemy for everyone, for all Libyan sides and of course for the International community and that this needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
In Libya, all sides should be aware that what is going on in this country is becoming more and more an important issue for the rest of the international community. This is a message from the Security Council resolution ... Peace in this country is a key issue for neighbouring countries.
There are questions affecting the international community such as terrorism. There are huge concerns about the operations of mafia trafficking with humans through Libya.