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UN says breakthrough achieved in Libya transition talks

January 17, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2020 file photo, Stephanie Williams, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia. Williams said Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, an advisory committee of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum agreed on a recommended mechanism for choosing a transitional government that would lead the conflict-stricken country to elections late this year. (AP Photo/Walid Haddad, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2020 file photo, Stephanie Williams, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia. Williams said Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, an advisory committee of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum agreed on a recommended mechanism for choosing a transitional government that would lead the conflict-stricken country to elections late this year. (AP Photo/Walid Haddad, File)

CAIRO (AP) — The top U.N. official for Libya said Saturday an advisory committee for representatives of Libya’s different regions has proposed a way forward for choosing a transitional government that would lead the war-torn country to elections late this year.

The talks in Geneva, structured around the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, have been taking place amid a heavy international push to reach a peaceful settlement to Libya’s civil war. Previous diplomatic initiatives have all collapsed.

U.N. acting envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams told a news conference in Geneva that the advisory committee’s members “have met their responsibility with a constructive spirit, cooperative efforts, and a great deal of patriotism.”

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The committee is part of a 75-member forum that represents all the three main regions of Libya. The 18-member committee has proposed that each region’s electoral college name a representative to a three-member presidential council, Williams said. A prime minister would be chosen by the 75-member forum. A successful nominee should receive 70% of votes.

Williams said that the forum would resort to lists formed from Libya’s three regions, with each list consisting of four names, nominated for the presidential council and a prime minister position.

She said a list should obtain 17 endorsements: eight from the western region, six from the eastern region and three from southern Libya. The winning list should receive 60% of the votes of the 75-member forum in the first round. A run-up is expected if no list received the required votes, she said.

Williams said the forum would vote on the proposed mechanism on Monday and the results are expected the following day.

The transitional government would be “a temporary unified executive staffed by Libyan patriots who want to share responsibility rather than to divide the cake,” the U.N. acting envoy said.

The U.S. welcomed the breakthrough and urged all parties of Libya “to work with urgency and in good faith” to establish an interim government, according to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Libya.

“It is time to move past the conflict and corruption facilitated by the status quo,” it said.

The forum is part of the U.N. efforts to end the chaos that engulfed the oil-rich North African nation after the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. It has reached an agreement last year to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Dec. 24, 2021.

The oil-rich country is now split east to west between two rival administrations, each backed by an array of militias and foreign powers.

The warring sides agreed to a U.N.-brokered cease-fire in October in Geneva, a deal that included the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya within three months.

No progress was announced on the issue of foreign forces and mercenaries since they inked the cease-fire deal almost two months ago.