Peter Millett

Peter Millett

Ambassador to Libya, Tripoli

Part of UK in Libya

16th December 2016 Tripoli, Libya

One Year After Skhirat

Today is the first anniversary of the signing of the Libya Political Agreement (LPA) in Skhirat, Morocco. I well recall the euphoria, expectation and excitement of the moment. There was a sense that the divisions and polarisation that had plagued Libya since the revolution were over. Now was the time to rebuild, restore and recover Libya’s dignity.
Unfortunately that hasn’t happened. Progress has been slow. Deadlines have been missed such as the withdrawal of the militias from all cities and residential areas within 30 days of a ceasefire; and the endorsement of the Government of National Accord by the House of Representatives within 10 days.
I share the frustration that I frequently hear during my visits to Libya. The problems that ordinary people confront on a daily basis are immense: shortage of cash, electricity and water cuts, growing criminality and kidnaps. After 42 years of dictatorship and 5 years of chaos and civil war, the Libyan people deserve better.
What can be done? There is some good news: the defeat of Daesh in Sirte; progress against extremists in Benghazi; the increase of oil production from the oil crescent; and local reconciliation agreements reuniting families with their loved ones.
Nonetheless, it is undeniable that the country is facing enormous challenges: economic meltdown, terrorist violence and political separation.
I sometimes hear appeals to the international community to rescue the country. But national reconciliation can only be achieved between Libyans. The international community can facilitate dialogue, encourage compromise and offer programmes of support. The key decisions have to be taken by the Libyans themselves.
Some people will no doubt claim today that the Skhirat Agreement has failed. Some will even claim that it has expired after one year. This is not correct. According to the LPA, it is the GNA that has a shelf life of one year from the vote of confidence; that particular clock hasn’t even started ticking yet.
The United Nations Security Council has recognised this point. The 15 countries issued a joint press statement on 7 December reaffirming their full support for the LPA and calling on all parties to accelerate its implementation.
They expressed their deep concern over the serious political polarisation and the recent escalation of violence between armed groups. They urged all Libyan stakeholders to work together with the Presidency Council to resolve outstanding issues and focus all Libyan efforts on rebuilding the country.
The Security Council explicitly focussed on the needs of the population, reiterating their determination to support the implementation of the Agreement to alleviate the suffering of the Libyan people.
Is there any alternative? I believe not. Of course another group of Libyans could start a negotiation, but it is highly unlikely that they would quickly reach a different agreement that would secure all-round acceptance and rapid delivery.

Far better to concentrate on the LPA. As far as we are concerned, it is not set in stone. There is room to revise it, if Libyans agreed to go down that route.
It is worth remembering that this Agreement is only an interim, short-term step. The long-term future of Libya requires a new constitution. This step depends on the Constitutional Drafting Assembly, an elected body representing all parts of the country.
Pending a final draft of the new constitution, Libya needs a government to unify the country. National unity is the most powerful weapon to confront the challenges the country is facing. The details of the LPA are important, but not crucial. There is no such thing as an agreement that can garner the support of everyone. So don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.
Libyans I have met in Tripoli, Misrata and Tobruq want peace, stability and prosperity. That’s what we want too. On this anniversary, I hope all Libyans will redouble their efforts to achieve that goal.

4 comments on “One Year After Skhirat

  1. Dear Ambassador Mr. Pitter Millet

    No doubt the LPA is indeed verging onto an extreme and critical stages as the scale of political polarisation and divisions is too running deeper now than ever was before – with the economy is dropping down into an appalling levels – crime, extortion and insecurity is also stigmatised a daily struggle for Libyan citizen across the country.

    Evidently, great many number of Libyan citizens now have come to the point that they feel unconfident about the LPA and its outcomes as the deterioration thickens and promises to prolong the agony of the Libyan people.

    In one hand, the warring factions continue to ignore the LPA and the strenuous efforts of the International Community and UNSMIL to bring all in one round-table. On the other hand, the rogue militias, particularly in Tripoli continue to seize GNA headquarters and impose a tarnished atmosphere of violence and restlessness.

    As matter of fact, we ought not disregard the progress made on ground, defeated ISIS in Sirte, the re-export of oil from the now-perceived safe Oil Crescent and talks to re-unify the Libyan financial institutions NOC, CBL, LIA.

    It is utterly crucial now for all stakeholders and Libyan people to mark the path in re-building their country through their freely and democratically-elected CAD that guarantee a new Libya that founded on the premises of political cohesion, civil peace/freedoms and democracy.

    Best regards

    Jamal Adel.

  2. Dear, Ambassador, P Millett,
    Thanks for the article that explains the libyan current situation accurately.
    Yes, I agree with you that the key decisions have to be taken by the Libyans themselves.
    Excuse me, I have a comment, I think the only Libyans who could say it.
    The main problem is that all Libyan leaders, members of the dialogue, members of the constitutional commission,political leaders …etc are not at the desired level.
    They’re one of three:
    AAA-They have a very low political culture as a result of cumulative experience for 42 +6 years.
    BBB-They are influenced by the tribal or religious denomination or ideology that governs their actions and decisions even if they show otherwise.
    CCC:There is a group governed by personal or regional interests and partisan gains.
    however still there is a hope.
    Thanks again and wish you all success.
    Best Regards
    Mohamed Douma
    Libyan Citizen

  3. I think you are exaggerating the euphoria, excitement etc. There was only hope after a long political stalemate. There was lots of scepticism due to the controversial people involved in the process but still libyans looking forward made everyone omit, turn a blind eye and wish they was wrong.
    There was long shots, naive and scattered. No progress. As for the militias issue, (a clear public demand and a necessity that gives confidence that all steps taken are not influenced by one party or another), was not only missed but not called for strong and clear. It even went the opposite direction by dealing and relying on militias one way or another.
    I do agree that it will be a long way to start all over. And that something can be built on what has been achieved. (The signing of the agreement but not the progress claim). Simply because as you said the new outcome will probably be the same.
    However, we can not continue in denail that things went and are still going wrong, it will be more challenging to reach consensus, if not impossible, now that a milestone (seen as termination by many) has been reached. I believe it is necessary to admit that a certain part at the implementation level has failed. A step back is needed. Defining what went wrong and call for selection of new presidential council is a must. Whomever is leading that needs to be strong and dose not carry any luggage. Parties will be keen to move on, join this new phase and not exclude themselves from the process.

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About Peter Millett

Peter arrived in Tunis on 23 June 2015 to take up his post as Ambassador to Libya. Previously he was British Ambassador to Jordan from February 2011 to June 2015. He was High Commissioner to…

Peter arrived in Tunis on 23 June 2015 to take up his post as
Ambassador to Libya.
Previously he was British Ambassador to Jordan from February 2011 to June 2015.
He was High Commissioner to Cyprus from 2005 – 2010.
He was Director of Security in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
from 2002-2005, dealing with all aspects of security for British
diplomatic missions overseas.
From 1997-2001 he served as Deputy Head of Mission in Athens.
From 1993-96 Mr Millett was Head of Personnel Policy in the FCO.
From 1989-93 he held the post of First Secretary (Energy) in the UK
Representative Office to the European Union in Brussels, representing
the UK on all energy and nuclear issues.
From 1981-1985 he served as Second Secretary (Political) in Doha.
Peter was born in 1955 in London.  He is married to June Millett and
has three daughters, born in 1984, 1987 and 1991.  
His interests include his family, tennis and travel.