The warring sides in Libya have reached an agreement to protect the country’s oil production facilities. The talks in Brega on Monday, November 16, were held between the military authorities of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army of general Khalifa Haftar. It led to an agreement to create a joint force to protect the facilities. The political talks that were going in parallel did not lead to an agreement on a transitional government for the country until the elections on December 24, 2021. These talks are set to continue next week.
Mustafa Sanalla, head of the National Oil Corporation (NOC), in a press conference, said the joint security force will be under the command of the corporation and will include both civilians and military personnel.
The UN interim envoy to Libya, Stephanie Williams, welcomed the agreement reached between the military wings. She said, in a brief statement, that “today in this historic location, at this historic moment we launched a process to unify the petroleum facilities guards,” adding that the UN supports all the various oil companies that contribute to Libya’s oil production in line with the country’s sovereignty. She also encouraged the two opposing parties to reach an agreement on section 2 of the NOC budget, which deals with setting up the required infrastructure to handle rising oil production in the future.
The conflict between various rebel groups in Libya had led to a blockade on oil production at the beginning of the year. This blockade was lifted only in September.
Meanwhile, the political talks that were held over the last week in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, have been suspended for a week. Ms. Williams said that the talks, titled ‘Libyan Political Dialogue Forum’, being held under the supervision of the UN, will “reconvene in about a week in a virtual meeting (to) agree on the selection mechanism for the coming authority,” adding that “no names were discussed.”
Turkey-based Anadolu agency, quoting some participants of the forum, said the failure to reach an agreement was due to the demand from certain quarters that Akile Saleh, the speaker of the House of Representatives based in the eastern Libyan city of Tobruk, be appointed as the head of the presidential council during the transition phase. The house of representatives is allied with the Libyan National Army which has been fighting the GNA, which is led by prime minister Fayez al-Sarraj. The transitional presidential council and government of national unity will be composed of three members, each representing the three regions of Libya, the South, East and West. The participants have also agreed on scope, duties and powers of the transitional government, as well as the conditions and responsibilities as per which that government will have to administer the country.
The discussions in Tunis, however, led to the fixing of December 24, 2021, as the date to hold elections. The day marks the establishment of the monarchy in Libya following the withdrawal of Allied occupation forces after World War II. The elections will be the first since 2014. Libya has been in chaos since 2011 when a NATO-led invasion overthrew Muammar Gaddafi.