ASRSG Stephanie Williams Remarks at the LPDF virtual meeting on 15 December 2020
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen and thank you for joining the session at short notice.
Before starting, please join me in observing a minute of silence to remember and pay tribute Omar Ghaith Garmil our colleague and our friend who very sadly passed away in Morocco earlier this week. My heart is breaking for Omar’s family, for his friends, for his city.
أود أن أتقدم باحر التعازي لكم ولعائلة الفقيد السيد أبو كدر عمر غيث قرميل. تغمد الله الفقيد بواسع الرحمة وألهم أهله وعائلته الصبر والسلوان.
I want to ask you to observe a moment of silence.
I have asked you to join me today while I am here in Geneva where I am with the co-Chairs of the Economic Working Group, the EU, the USA and the Republic of Egypt. We are collectively chairing a meeting that is bringing together some members of the Libyan Economic Experts Commission, as well as representatives of both branches of the Central Bank of Libya, the Audit Bureau, the Ministry of Finance and the National Oil Corporation to discuss the critical economic reforms needed. I am very pleased with the ongoing discussion, which is addressing currency reform, the banking crisis, the unification of the national budget, and including a timetable to implement all of these reforms.
This meeting here in Geneva is taking place in the context of some positive developments on the economic track, including the full resumption of oil production, thanks to the significant efforts of the National Oil Corporation and to the decision by the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Libya to convene a board meeting tomorrow that is expected to tackle the unification of the exchange rate. I would note here that this is the first board meeting that will take place after a period of five years, and I think this is a source of significant hope for the Libyan people. Moreover, UNSMIL continues to facilitate the international audit review of both branches of the Central Bank of Libya; the audit is now nearly halfway complete. As you know it is part of the vital process of re-unification of the Central Bank and to fully re-establish the national accountability mechanisms.
Today in the economic meeting we are discussing the budget unification and a clear roadmap forward and of course linked to all of this is the management of the oil revenue, there is a decision taken to hold the revenues right now, part of that is pending what happens in this group [the LPDF], but there is now a momentum on the economic track and it reflects what is the constituency for change in the country.
I am hopeful that the meeting here in Geneva will be another practical, tangible step forward, together with the work of the JMC 5+5 to implement the ceasefire, to address the real problems and with real and pragmatic solutions that can respond to the needs and aspirations of all Libyans to live their lives safely, in dignity and prosperity.
And now I want to inform you of the results of yesterday’s vote.
But first I want to highlight, to illustrate for you the sheer amount of time and energy that we have already spent on the executive process. Since we met in Tunis in the middle of November, we have now convened virtually on six occasions, on 23 and 25 November, on 1, 2, 5 and 10 December. We have spent over 30 hours online, in addition to the surveys and the voting, which we have conducted on the phone, which have constituted another 30 to 35 hours of the time, all of this in an effort to try and move forward on the selection mechanism and the decision-making threshold. In order to overcome this deadlock and move past the issue, we have proposed two options - we believe that they could have secured an acceptable level of consensual decision-making threshold.
In this vote we reached 71 participants 50 of you voted, 21 abstained, 2 participants we could not contact at all, one participant withdrew prior to the vote from the dialogue for personal reasons, and I do not have authorization to share a name or circumstances of the withdrawal and of course, there was the dear departed Omar. I will emphasize here that we made every effort, repeated efforts to reach you, we extended the deadline last night until midnight in an effort to absolutely reach everybody. Two participants never acknowledged the outreach from the Mission.
Out of 50 votes, 36 voted in favor of the “61% threshold with a 50%+1 endorsement at the regional level” and 14 voted in favor of the “2/3 threshold”.
I want to reiterate that this vote was exclusively meant to identify a decision-making threshold for the selection mechanism.
It is however clear to me that so far you collectively continue to struggle to agree on a way forward on the selection mechanism for the executive authority.
I thus intend to now form an advisory committee amongst you that will help, I hope, bridge the differences so that we can make concrete progress.
I trust that I can count on your support and on the mutual trust that I believe we have built amongst each other for this approach, which I intend to define over the course of the next session, which will be held in a few days.
But meanwhile, the clock is ticking, and we have a collective responsibility before the Libyan people to advance this process so as to fulfil a key objective of the roadmap which is enabling and making a reality, the holding of elections on 24 December 2021.
I am going to use an American expression here, “We are going to walk and chew gum at the same time.” We will not allow the executive selection “Fawdha” to impact on the goal of national elections.
It is now urgent that we focus on making progress on article 4 of the Roadmap, which is an indispensable element for holding national elections, by the date that you agreed to and you announced, and which concerns the establishment of a legal committee for the constitutional arrangements.
Before we left Tunis, I requested that you put forward your nominations for the establishment of the legal committee and we have received your nominations and I will inform you of the composition of the committee in the next few days.
We are applying the principle that we want the broadest participation in these various committees; this means if you are already a member of one committee, you can’t be a member of another committee. There are now 73 participants and we want to give the opportunity to all participants to contribute
And now we also need to focus on another important issue which is the start date for the preparatory phase. The Roadmap, in Article III, states that the preparatory phase will begin at the time of the final announcement of the outcomes of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum that was held in Tunis in November 2020. We have been trying to finalize the outcomes over the past month and so far, the outcomes are partial.
So I suggest that you adopt by acclamation an amendment to the Roadmap, indicating that the start date of the preparatory phase will be set on the date of the establishment of the legal committee, which I intend to convene on 21 December. We will convene virtually on the 21st and I will convene the committee physically right after the start of the new year. So, we will now start to work on the terms of reference and the timelines.
We will then officially notify – at the time of the establishment of the Committee -, the House of Representatives and the High Council of State as the concerned institutions to address the constitutional arrangements, of this amendment to the Roadmap and of the establishment of the legal committee.
I am making this proposal in my capacity as the mediator and in the interest of advancing this process and reflecting on the fact that we need to fully finalise our work and cannot create any obstacles for the electoral process to run its course.
I have been in direct contact with Dr. Imad al-Sayeh [Head of HNEC] over the last couple of days where he briefed me on his visit to the East, the HNEC readiness, requirement and timelines. So, we, in the Mission, are fully engaged on elections.
I am briefing the Security Council today in a closed session today at 5:00 PM Libya time. I also want to inform you that I am going to be with you for a little while longer and that’s why I will be able to convene the meeting in January [of the legal committee].
I am fully committed, the train has left the station on this process, there is no going back. The expectations are high internationally, but most importantly among the Libyan people, so let’s collectively, let’s not let them down, let’s be smart and forward looking and working together.
A lot has been sacrificed so far and I think that we need to really work together, and I count on you to do that on your own time as well not just in these sessions so please invest together.
I want to emphasize that we need to look forward, let’s not litigate the past there has been a lot of litigation of the past, but we need to look forward.