Mohamed Sowane’s comment on the Libyan political dialogue

Mohamed Sowane’s comment on the Libyan political dialogue

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With regards to the debate that took place in Misrata, one that LIBYAPROSPECT posted about on Tuesday Mohamed Sowane, the leader of the Justice and Construction Party (al-Adalaa Wa al-Binaa), who is in support of the dialogue which is taking place in Skhirat, has commented on his position with the draft.

He begins by saying that, the issue in Libya is very complicated, and that is the reason why there are many problems between Libyans. He said that the revolution in 2011 forced everyone to get involved in politics, even those who did not care before, everyone is keen to find an end to what is going on in Libya, and finally have a well-constructed State that respect Human Rights, a State that does everything the Libyans want.

Sowan in the debate of Misrata
Sowan in the debate of Misrata

Sowane says, there are two sides to this conflict, there are those supporting the draft, and those who do not, he said that he is almost certain that they all want the same outcome, they want to see Libya flourish. The target is one, even if there are differences on how to reach that target. He says that he wishes people judge others on their actions, not on their intentions, and that he doesn’t think anyone will accuse someone else of betraying Libya. He added, that he wishes, and hopes that people do not use terms like traitor, as we do not need them.

He goes on to say, considering the complicated case in Libya, if we are to talk about the issue, he says we should consider the more important factors, such as the army, politics, security, economy, social, regional as well as international. We must bring all of these factors together. Sowan adds that, we have no choice as Libyans, there is no best option or worse option. The reality is that the options we have are all dangerous, any road we take we will encounter danger, he says no one can come forward and say they have a solution to fix the issue in Libya with no risks.

 

Sowane goes on to explain the factors he mentioned earlier, on how we should talk about the case in Libya. Firstly, the political issue, he said, it is a brute fact that we have two parliaments, the HoR and the GNC, we have two governments, two central banks, two heads of army. Another issue is the international society, they are applying pressure on Libya and are only recognising one side of the conflict, and we have to accept the fact that the international community favour the HoR.

He adds by saying, the political scene is divided, the world is dealing with Libya as if it is a source of problems, for example the migrant crisis, the growing threat of terrorism, drugs, security. We can see that this is an issue, even through our neighbours’ actions, Tunisia is building a wall across the border with Libya, and Algeria has its army on the borders. He said that he received a report on the south of Libya, between 17km away from the southern city of Sabha and the southern border are not under the control of Libya, so a 4,000 km border on the south is unprotected and is not controlled by Libya.

Sowane also said, there are deep division in Libya and between groups of people, he gave the example, of a friend of his who was travelling from Misrata to Benghazi, he said that, when he left Misrata he saw the Libyan independence flag, when he went on further he saw the Islamic State flag, then when he got to the east he saw the flag of Barqa (Cyrenaica). The fact of the matter is, we have different flags which represent the fundamental divisions between people, and this will have an effect on the countries surrounding Libya, even on the world as a whole.

He then starts to talk about the issue of the society in Libya, Sowane said that Libya is an integrated country, with very strong social bonds, however this was effected by the war, Libya was torn apart, he says, we don’t like this war but we have been forced into it, this was exacerbated by Haftar and the Karama operation, and not to forget the tribal problems between cities which perpetuated through years of tribal conflict.

Then he moves on to talk about the economic issue, he says that he will talk in numbers, 6 months ago, the head of the Libyan International Bank said, the assets in Libyan banks would only last Libyans for 18 months, after that we will have no salaries, no electricity etc.

Furthermore, Sowane then talks about the security issue, he says everything in Libya is profane, anyone can do anything they please and not be held accountable for their actions, he gave the example of a relative of his in Misrata, someone came into his house, broke the glass, and threw a bomb inside the house and ran away, he went unpunished for what he had done. Sowan said that we are ruled by the norms of society, we are ruled through tribes and people, we are ruled by our manners, but we are not ruled by law, and that is the fundamental issue.

The internal issues in Libya are still bad, there is no winning side to the battle on the ground, no one can finish this war, so we have a big problem, the fight has taken a very long time and no one has won, to make things worse, no one looks like they will win. He says that people think he is trying to scare them by speaking in this manner, but he believes he is just talking about the situation and how it really is, Sowan says “I am not talking about a situation that may collapse, I am talking about a situation that has already collapsed” he adds by saying we should look at the facts, no one is coming to say there is a fear that the government may collapse, the reality is that it has already collapsed, it has collapsed politically socially economically, even security.

In relation with the UN’s intervention in Libya, he says that he knows there are people who deal with the UN from an ideological background, and others are dealing with the UN from their nationalist background. Sowan believes they think the UN is the devil, a bloodsucking leech that wants to feed off Libya, and that when it comes to solve an issue, they will bring a government they can control. He says that in reality these people just want to create problems in order to refuse help from the UN.

He reiterates that Libya is a member of the UN, so it has the right to request assistance from the UN, as Libya pays its contribution. He raises the question, what is intervening in the sovereignty of the government? He says it is not when the UN comes to help solve a country’s issues, it is when another country comes to another country to try intervene their issues for them.

Sowane also said that some people have tried to invoke a fatwa, to say that it is haram (forbidden) for the UN to intervene in Libya’s matters. He says that if they do find a fatwa, it will not even help; if you look at Islamic fatwa, it says even a non-Muslim can help you in solving your problems. He says we tried to find who will help us, as Libyans, we could not find any neutral Libyan side, the Transitional National Council (TNC) is one side, the General National Council (GNC) is another, the House of Representatives (HoR) is another, tribes as well, we have reached a stage where we need the UN’s help, whether we want it or not.

حوار مصراتةSowane adds to this by talking about the court’s verdict, he says, we have to understand that we are in full support of the court’s decision, but when we see the GNC partake in the dialogue, with the HoR, this connotes that they have found another way to solve the issue, other than the courts. This means we have to change the constitutional declaration to solve this issue. He has stated that prior to the dialogue in Skhirat, we accepted the court’s decision, but because they decided to sit together, they took another avenue to reach peace in Libya.

He also has said, the GNC is the one that suggested that there should be two rooms and Sowan said he supports that action. Sowan acknowledges some people’s views on the HoR, these people want to stall the talks and wait until October, which is when the HoR reaches the end of its term. Sowan said he completely disagrees with this view. He said that there are supporters of the HoR who are against the GNC, and there are supporters of the GNC against the HoR, if we wait until October for the HoR to dissolve, where will their supporters go? They will not just support the GNC, more tensions would arise. He says the best thing to do is to bring the GNC and the HoR together to form one legislature, if we wait until October, the situation will get more complicated and instead of having two sides we will have 16 sides or more.

Sowane admits that he has many issues with the draft, he claims that he has more problems with the draft than Mohammed Dharrat, but he says we should look at the draft as a general blueprint to build Libya, we should not focus on the details, the results of the draft will allow us to form an accord government, we will have a legislature and a Higher State Council, the Higher State Council will have the power of VETO on the legislature but cannot intervene in the legislative process. He says, in order for Libya to prosper we need to all make a compromise to reach a decision and create a solidarity government.

He believes that Libya needs a state that can maintain its sovereignty, a state that can use the oil trade to maximise profits and improve the economy which will improve the life of Libyans, the people of Libya will be united under one government, one flag and be one nation, from there, Libya can prosper and see a better tomorrow. According to Sowane , the accord government will be effective, as the Higher State Council will have the power to withdraw confidence from the HoR to make sure they do their job to the best of their ability.

Sowane finishes off by saying that, he does not accept the attitude of people refusing the draft without providing alternatives, he says, from this point onwards we have two options, the first is, we accept the draft and improve on it, or the second option which is to gamble and refuse the draft, the international community will either neglect Libya as a whole or favour one side which would be the HoR and this will keep the situation as it is and will probably become worse.