UN Launches New Libya Talks Amidst Careful Optimism

Competing Libyan factions fulfilled Monday for UN-led talks focused on bringing an enduring peace to their war-torn North African nation and getting ready for elections.

The conference in neighbouring Tunisia follows months of relative calm and a crucial ceasefire deal in October in between the 2 major camps in the long-running dispute.

” You have the opportunity to end an awful conflict,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told delegates in a video message at the opening event.

” Now it’s your turn to form the future of your country.”

Libya has seen a decade of violence considering that the 2011 toppling of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising, with a complicated web of local conflicts intensified by foreign intervention.

But October’s ceasefire contract has enabled crucial oil production to resume and for development on efforts to end years of political deadlock.

UN performing envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams speaks at the opening of the Libyan Political Discussion Online forum hosted in Gammarth on the borders of the Tunisian capital AFP/ Fethi Belaid

This week’s talks in Gammarth, near the Tunisian capital Tunis, goal to merge the nation under a single executive and pave the way for national elections.

The 75 Libyan delegates, chosen by the UN, have quit the right to play a role in the resulting political body.

Along with preparing for national surveys, the interim executive will deal with the daunting difficulties of offering standard services in a country wrecked by economic issues and the coronavirus pandemic.

Libya is controlled by 2 competing administrations, each backed by foreign powers and a plethora of armed groups.

The Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, which resulted from previous UN-backed talks in 2015, is backed by Turkey.

Military engineers of the UN-recognised Libyan Government of National Accord detonate an explosive device uncovered from locations south of the capital Tripoli on October 12 AFP/ Mahmud TURKIA

In the east, military strongman Khalifa Haftar supports a competing administration with backing from Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Haftar introduced an offensive in April 2019 to seize the capital, trashing UN efforts to hold a previous round of talks.

But after a bloody year-long stalemate, pro-GNA forces with renewed backing from Turkey required him into a quick retreat eastwards in June.

Peter Millett, a former British ambassador to Libya, warned on the first day of talks that “if potential spoilers like Haftar and the militias do not see themselves benefitting, hostilities might break out again”.

” The most crucial thing is a timeline for elections,” he stated.

” It requires to be brief, maximum 9 months, with key milestones for carrying out and a clear message from the worldwide community that they will impose sanctions on anybody who blocks it.”

Guterres urged world powers to support peace efforts and to respect a long-standing UN arms embargo, words echoed by the host of the talks, Tunisian President Kais Saied.

” This is a historic moment,” Saied told delegates at the opening ceremony.

” We are able to conquer all difficulties and barriers … when there is no interference from outdoors powers.”

Media in both eastern and western Libya voiced cautious optimism about the talks.

Some explained the discussion as the last opportunity to avoid the partition of Libya and bring an end to a decade of violence.

Others said that by attempting to redraw the transitional period without direct elections initially, it would lay the ground for additional armed clashes.

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