Panafrican News Agency

Libyan newspapers awash with stories on Al-Sarraj's intention to quit power, resumption of oil production

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - Stories in the Libyan newspapers this week are largely dominated by the indication by the President of the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Al-Sarraj, that he would resign shortly.

They also gave wide coverage to the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the restructuring of the position of Special Representative of the UN Secretary General.

The Libyan press also echoed the speculations on the resumption of oil production and exports, as well as the arrangements for the equitable distribution and transparent management of oil revenues among Libyan cities and regions.

Under the headline "Non-resignation of Al-Sarraj ... and two-headed UN representation in Libya", the Al-Wassat newspaper highlighted "the resignation of Fayez Al-Sarraj and the appointment of a successor to the Representative of the UN in Libya, Ghassan Salamé".

Newspapers flooded the newsstands with Al-Sarraj's intention to resign after the information leaked.

Al-Sarraj gave his indication to quit in Wednesday's speech on the occasion of the Commemoration of the Martyr's Day, saying that he entrust his functions to a new executive authority at the end of October which he called the fruit of a Libyan political dialogue".                    

According to the paper, Al-Sarraj's announcement could be based on international pressure resulting from the fear that the resignation could disrupt the international political arrangements which prepare the return of the Libyan parties to the dialogue in Geneva with reference to the results of the Berlin Conference, to draw up a political map that ends the transition phase and leads to legislative and presidential elections.

However, it also requires the swift appointment of a successor to former UN envoy Ghassan Salamé, who was at the center of the Security Council meeting, Al-Wassat added.

On the release of Resolution No. 2542 of 2020, which includes an international agreement to divide the United Nations Mission on two counts, Russia and China abstained from voting, the newspaper reported.

It said the appointment of the seventh Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Libya will come soon after more than six months of Salame's departure.

For the first time in Libya, UNSMIL will be headed by a Special Envoy instead of a Special Representative assisted by a coordinator.

In accordance with the Security Council resolution as proposed by Great Britain, a change in the leadership structure has taken place, whereby the term "Special Representative" was replaced by the term "Special Envoy".

This may have happened following pressures from the United States.

The newspaper also recalled the recent wave of protests in western Libya against corruption and the worsening living conditions, as well as the disagreements within the GNA.

Al-Wassat newspaper claimed that analysts interpreted this decision as the result of the Geneva talks, which will likely lead to the formation of a new political entity and a new authority, which Mr. Al-Sarraj is unlikely to be part of.

His resignation reinforces that reality, but others have warned that the move will create a political vacuum in western Libya that will further weaken the national accord government.

The newspaper also recalled that in Benghazi (East), the interim government submitted its resignation following the demonstrations against corruption and the deterioration of living conditions that have shaken the cities of the east of the country recently, but the Speaker of Parliament, Aguila Saleh, refused to accept the resignation and asked Mr. Al-Theni to remain in his position as head of the interim government.

In the same vein, the newspaper Afrigatenews, in an analysis, entitled "Speech of Al-Sarraj ... a maneuver or diktats", clarified that nearly five years after his appointment as head of the Libyan government of National Accord in Tripoli, Al-Sarraj announced in a short televised speech that he was ready to leave his post before the end of October to make way for a new executive authority, specifying, however, that the reasons for this announcement are not clear in a country weakened by chaos and conflict.

The reasons for this announcement are still unclear, although it is not surprising, added the newspaper, which indicates that "it is an expected decision which only confirms the rumour making the rounds in Tripoli a few days ago.

It reported "although we have to be careful because he may not go in the end."

Quoting Walid Fares, an expert on international affairs and adviser to the US Congress on terrorism, the electronic journal said that "this may be a maneuver to exert some pressure on the international community, especially the United States, France and their allies, so that they will participate more in the resolution of the Libyan problem".      

Another possible explanation for Walid Fares could be linked to internal conflicts, according to the newspaper, which recalls a wave of protests taking place against the deterioration of living conditions in the country, claiming that "the prime minister is facing the streets and to the rivals of his camp, including the Minister of the Interior, Fathi Bachagha, who has not hidden his ambitions".

Addressing the issue of the blockade on oil sites in Libya, the Al-Wassat newspaper claimed that the September 12 deadline for the full reopening of the Libyan energy sector passed without any event, reportedly compromised by the continuing dispute on guarantees for the distribution of oil revenues.

It said that increasing American and national pressures have contributed to optimism about the resumption of crude production. On the contrary, the question has made ill-prepared international markets lose appetite to absorb new quantities of oil.

Al-Wassat clarified that talks on resuming most crude oil production in Libya and ending the eight-month-old blockade on the country's exports are still ongoing with the attempt to resolve the issue of distribution of oil revenues.

It added that the call for a ceasefire, launched by the head of the GNA, and the president of the House of Representatives (Parliament), Aguila Saleh, underlined the proposal to freeze crude oil revenues in a special account pending a political solution.

Ongoing negotiations aim to create a revenue mechanism through which the "Libyan National Army", led by Haftar, and the GNA can equitably access oil and gas revenues.

Haftar announced on Friday the conclusion of an agreement between the Libyan national army and the vice-president of the Presidential Council, Ahmed Maitig, on the resumption of production and exports of crude on the basis of a mechanism for distributing oil revenues between Libyan cities and regions in order to benefit Libyan citizens and alleviate their suffering.

-0- PANA BY/IS/KND/VAO 19Sept2020