UN-led Libya talks end without naming interim government
GAMMARTH, Tunisia (AP) — Libya’s rival sides wrapped up a week of U.N.-brokered talks without agreeing on a transitional government that would lead the county to an election in December next year, the top U.N. official for Libya said Monday.
The political forum, which concluded late Sunday in Tunisia, was the latest effort to end the chaos that engulfed the oil-rich North African nation after the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
The main goal of the gathering was to draw a roadmap for presidential and parliamentary elections. The participants agreed to hold the vote on Dec. 24, 2021, but failed to name a transitional administration to lead the war-torn country.
U.N. acting envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams told reporters in Tunisia the 75-member forum did not discuss names during the week-long talks — even though a draft handed out at the start said they were to agree on the names of a president of the presidential council, two presidential deputies and that of the prime minister.
The Libyan rivals would meet again, online and within a week, to agree on a mechanism to name the next government, Williams said.
“Ten years of conflicts cannot be resolved in one week,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”
The U.N. had selected 75 delegates from Libya to take part in the week-long forum at a luxury hotel in the Mediterranean town of Gammarth, just outside the capital of Tunis. Williams said that she was “very pleased with the outcome” of the gathering.
She said the rival sides would name a volunteer legal committee to work on the “constitutional basis for the election.”
The talks took place amid heavy international pressure after the warring sides agreed to a U.N.-brokered cease-fire agreement last month in Geneva. Previous diplomatic initiatives to end the conflict have repeatedly collapsed.
The sides made no progress on the question of the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya. Thousands of foreign fighters, including Russians, Syrians, Sudanese and Chadians, have been brought to Libya by both sides, according to U.N. experts.
The October cease-fire had deal set a three months’ deadline for foreign forces to leave Libya.
Libya is split between a U.N.-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east. The two sides are backed by an array of local militias, as well as regional and foreign powers.
Eastern Libya forces, led by commander Khalifa Hifter, launched an offensive in April 2019 to try and capture Tripoli. His campaign collapsed in June, when the Tripoli-allied militias, with heavy Turkish support, pushed Hifter’s forces away from Tripoli.
Meanwhile in the coastal city of Sirte, military delegates from the two sides met on Monday to discuss how to restructure the force guarding the oil facilities. The current guard force is loyal to Hifter’s troops. The U.N. mission and representatives from Libya’s national oil company attended the meeting.
Magdy reported from Cairo.