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[Exclusive Interview] Sowane: National Conference repeats the mistakes with absenteeism and withdrawal

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Exclusive Interview:

Mohamed Sowane exclusively to LIBYAPROSPECT: “National Conference repeats the mistakes with absenteeism and withdrawal. I had hoped it would not miss the dialogue”.

Libya Prospect interviews Mohammad Sowane, President of the Justice and Construction Party, the political arm of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood. This interview, exclusive for “LIBYAPROSPECT”, comes after Sowane’s participation in the Libyan political dialogue and his positive position in favor of dialogue, especially since he was one of the signatories to the dialogue draft under the supervision of the UN delegation.

LIBYAPROSPECT: First of all, how do you see the dialogue developments in Sukheirat. What are the chances of an agreement and getting to the point of signing and complete consensus?

Sowane: Although the dialogue did not take place among the parties directly in most rounds, and I mean the conference and parliament delegations, the dialogue rounds saw direct meetings and important agreement among the remaining participating parties, in Sukheirat, Algeria, Geneva and Brussels, in which the political parties, the civil society, municipality councils, rebels and women participated. All these rounds contributed in one way or another in reaching the features of the final agreement currently proposed in Sukheirat. We had hoped that the National Conference would not miss the last session in which the draft was initialed. It could have come and abstained from initialing, then announced its proposed amendments as a condition for signing. Yes, there is great hope in reaching a consensus, because everyone has comments. Perhaps the comments of the Conference are restricted tone, which is cancelling the prior decisions made by parliament. We as a Party want to see that too.

LIBYAPROSPECT: You initiated with a positive position in favor of the dialogue, but it seems there is opposition to your position inside the Justice and Construction Party that you preside over. What is the effect of this on your position, and was the issue discussed inside the Party?

Sowane: We at the Justice and Construction Party are always calling for agreement and concessions to the partners in the homeland. We fully realize from our observation of the situation internally and abroad the seriousness and severity of the crisis threatening the future, existence, sovereignty, security and stability of Libya. Therefore, all our statements, political positions and initiatives were moving in that direction.

The positive position I took crowned everything that came before it. It was a practical position to call for agreement, repairing the rift, and putting an end to the crisis in words and deeds. This position is a solid attitude adopted by the Party’s leadership; it was not an individual position. The opposition inside the Party is a health phenomenon inside the institution, it is by some members of the Party whom we respect, and we allow them to express their opinions. The Party leadership of all levels met after the signing and all the opinions and viewpoints were discussed. They concluded that the initialing falls within the jurisprudence of the Party leadership and must be supported and built upon to put an end to the crisis.

The Party’s position was welcomed by several groups of Libyans and observers of the political affairs and the crisis in Libya. We only received positive reactions and this affirms to us that everyone is pushing in the direction of finding a solution to put an end to the crisis.

LIBYAPROSPECT: It is presumed that the phase that follows political agreement is the phase of security dialogue. Do you anticipate that there will be agreement in this regard?

Sowane: The security arrangements are very important and are the essence of the solution’s success and the consensus government’s ability to undertake its duties and put an end to the crisis.

I believe that if all the parties to the dialogue agree to the agreement memorandum, it will facilitate its implementation on the ground. Therefore, the UN delegation included many parties in the dialogue in addition to the Conference and Parliament, including the parties, civil society, municipal councils, rebels and boycotting MPs, to guarantee the greatest amount of agreement on the solution and facilitate its implementation.

This is contrary to the interpretation by some that the UN included many parties for the purpose of fragment the strength of a certain party. The delegation dealt with a reality where there is no strong central authority in the two sides that guarantees the implementation of any solution.

LIBYAPROSPECT: What is your comment on the position of the National Conference on signing?

Sowane: The National Conference is repeating the mistakes with the absenteeism and withdrawal. I had hoped that it would not miss the Sukheirat dialogue, regardless of signing or refraining from doing so. It could have signed with reservations, because initialing is not binding.

LIBYAPROSPECT: As you are the political front of the Muslim Brotherhood, or at least in view of the Party’s relationship with the Brotherhood, are you seeking community dialogue to pave the way for success and the de facto implementation of the agreement?

Sowane: We are continuously in touch with the National Conference, the active municipal councils, the rebels, the political leaders and activities in the civil society, including some parties in Tubroq, Egypt, and Tunisia, and the boycotting MPs. All this communication aims to bring the viewpoints closer and push towards concessions, solutions, ensuring the success of the dialogue and putting an end to the crisis.

LIBYAPROSPECT: Regarding your relationship with other Islamic movements, what are the points of agreement and difference among you? The point here is groups like Ansar Al Sharia, former members of the fighting group and the Ifta House in Tripoli?

Sowane: We agree with all those who seek to find a solution and a way out of the political crisis that the country is going through, and returning to the peaceful political path to build a democratic state that respect the law and human rights, where citizens enjoy security and prosperity. As for the movements that do not recognize the political process based on democracy as a mechanism of rotating power and respecting others, we fully disagree with them, including Ansar Al Sharia. As for other persons, the differences are in the political opinions, essentially in view of the Party’s vision and our assessment of the local, regional and international reality as well as our assessment of the size of the political, economic, security and social crisis facing the country and the Party’s ability to read the scene comprehensively, understand the risks and the repercussions, whereas some rely on reading a part of the scene or rely on partial information.

LIBYAPROSPECT: How do you assess the position of Sheikh Sadeq Al Ghiryani, the President of the Conference, and Salah Badi, who refused to sign? On the other hand there is also the position of Lieutenant General Khalifeh Haftar, who is also refusing to sign?

Sowane: Without mentioning names, some have fears related to the draft agreement and its repercussions, the return of the former regime, foreign intervention or legal prosecution due to positions during the war and the division. These are legitimate fears that require reassurances and guarantees.

LIBYAPROSPECT: Do you as a political party have demands in the dialogue regarding the Party’s gains, such as having a role in the government for an example?

Sowane: As a Party, our main goal is the return of stability, putting an end to the division, the return of political life, and an end to the war. I do not believe anyone in Libya now is thinking about ideology or party gains that may be legitimate in times of prosperity. At this point the existence, unity, sovereignty and security of the country are threatened, and there is no room to thing about anything except the homeland and put an end to the crisis.