Rome, 29 March 2017. Representatives of two of South Libya’s strongest tribes – the Awlad Suleiman and the Tebu – signed a permanent Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Rome in the presence of a high ranking delegation of the Tuareg.
The agreement was signed by Sheikh Zilawi Minah Salah, Sultan of the Tebu of Libya and by General Senoussi Oumar Massaoud, President of the Council of Notables of the Awlad Suleiman.
The solemn signing ceremony between the two powerful tribes of the great Fezzan region, was held in Rome on 29th March 2017, in the presence of Abdulsalam Kajman, Member of the GNA’s Presidential Council of Libya.
Negotiations between the Tebu and the Awlad Suleiman were supported by the Italian government through the Ministry of Interior and were facilitated by the Ara Pacis Initiative, an international not for profit organization based in Rome, dedicated to supporting the human dimensions of peace.
Ara Pacis Initiative places the human being – with his/her needs, rights, moral resources, resiliency, creativity, spirituality, aspirations, dignity, and capacity to create new beginnings – at the core of conflict prevention, resolution, and transformation, and assists governments, institutions and communities in bringing divided peoples into restored, more just human relationships.
The permanent Peace and Reconciliation Agreement between the Tebu and the Awlad Suleiman tribes was signed at the headquarters of the Ara Pacis Initiative, Torretta de Massimi, and it was the outcome of intense and marathon dialogue sessions that began in Rome in December 2016, aimed at achieving peace, reconciliation, security and development in southern Libya in a perspective of contrasting human trafficking, illegal trades and terrorism.
In the agreement, the two tribes agree to cease hostilities, to re-establish mutual trust and to do everything possible to promote peaceful coexistence. They also promise to work together for the security and development of their region in collaboration with all the other tribes of the Fezzan.
In his speech during the signing ceremony, Moulay Iqdeedi Amaa Qineedi, one of the leaders of the Tuareg delegation, congratulated the Awlad Suleiman and the Tebu delegations for choosing the path of peace and reconciliation.
“We strongly believe that the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement you are about to sign after long consultations and negotiations will send a strong and clear message to our brothers and sisters at home, in our beloved Libya, that this is the right way to go,” Sheikh Moulay said. “Reconstruction of Libya can only take place through the path of reconciliation that will bring stability, peace and security.”
The ceremony to sign the agreement started with a prayer led by a Tebu Sheikh who read a Verse from the Holy Koran calling on all to be fair and good to theirs brothers because God hears and sees everything that men do.
During disagreements, the Sheikh said in his prayer, “you must always follow what God and his Prophet say.”
Referring to the members of the Awlad Suleiman as “our brothers”, the Sultan of the Tebu, holding the Tebu Constitution, said brothers may have conflicts between themselves, but the most important thing is to find a way to reconcile and make peace.
He thanked the Ara Pacis and the Italian government for having strongly supported the reconciliation and peace agreement between the Tebu and the Awlad Suleiman.
The Sultan also thanked the Libyan government represented by Vice President Kajman, for giving its auspices to the effort and moral support during the negotiations.
In his speech before signing the agreement, General Senousi, president of the Awlad Suleiman Council, said they had for long waited and dreamed of “this historic moment”.
He also thanked Dr Kajman for his moral support during the negotiations and for gracing the signing ceremony with his presence.
“We are grateful to the Italian government, to the Ara Pacis Initiative and to the entire Italian people for having supported and helped us reach this historic moment,” General Senousi said.
Stressing the importance of the agreement, the head of the Awlad Suleiman stated that the future of their tribes and of the entire Libya would depend on the success of its implementation.
On his part, Dr Kajman congratulated the Tebu and the Awlad Suleiman delegations for reaching the Reconciliation and Peace Agreement.
“This is proof that we are capable of achieving peace and closing a dark chapter of the past,” the Libyan Vice President said.
He added that it was a great honour for him to be present as a witness to the agreement “signed between our brothers the Awlad Suleiman and our brothers the Tebu, in the presence of our Tuareg brothers.”
Dr Kajman asked God to bless the Reconciliation and Peace Agreement which he described as “a model of reconciliation between all the members of the Libyan society, especially those in the South.”
He further thanked the Italian government for having supported the negotiations through Marco Minniti, Minister of the Interior, and Ara Pacis Initiative for working so hard to achieve this historic moment.
“While it is difficult to reach a peace and reconciliation agreement, it is even more difficult and challenging to implement it and maintain peace,” Dr Kajman said. “I’m however confident that this agreement will be successful because a friendly spirit reigned during the negotiations, and the two parties have clearly expressed good will and commitment to work for restoration of peace and stability in southern Libya.”
Maria Nicoletta Gaida, President of the Ara Pacis Initiative, the organization that organized the meetings and negotiations, congratulated her “extraordinary friends” from the Tebu and Awlad Suleiman tribes for choosing to be architects of peace.
“God is seeing this peace, God will guard this peace, and blessed are you who are the architects of peace,” Dr Gaida told the delegates.
The signing ceremony was a joyful moment indeed. All present applauded and praised God as they shouted Allah Akbar (God is great) and Viva Libya, Viva Italy, while exchanging greetings and embracing each other.
On the 31st of March, at the Interior Ministry, a second set of documents were signed by representatives of the two tribes, Vice President Kajman and the Italian Minister of Home Affairs, Marco Minniti, thus completing the process and opening the way to the implementation of measures in support of the reconciliation agreement.
How the agreement was reached
The delegation of each tribe was composed of the tribal chief, notables, local politicians especially mayors, representatives of the police and military, as well as elders and representatives of each clan and religious leaders.
The two delegations met for the first time in Rome last December, with support from the EU’s Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development, Human Development and Migration, to explore the path towards an agreement of reconciliation and peace.
On this occasion the two delegations broke the ice, decided to pursue the way of peace and were received by Minister Minniti who assured them of the full support of the Italian government in overcoming all the obstacles they could meet in their search for peace, reconciliation, security and development.
Returning to Rome in March, each delegation held a series of separate meetings to come up with the terms and conditions for entering into dialogue to prepare the agreement.
At the end of those meetings, each delegation prepared a draft of what it wanted to be included in the final agreement.
The two delegations then officially met to share ideas on how to prepare the agreement.
Each delegation read its draft proposal and it emerged that both proposals had many points in common.
A commission composed of representatives of the two tribes was then formed to reconcile the two drafts and incorporate the other new ideas that emerged during the joint sessions.
Vice President Kajman’s consultants and staff members of the Ara Pacis Initiative helped the commission sort out technical issues during the preparation of the final version of the agreement.