UN-led Libya talks held in neighboring Tunisia enter final day

UN-led Libya talks held in neighboring Tunisia enter final day

A week of UN-led talks on Libya were set to conclude on Sunday, the latest phase in renewed efforts to end a decade of conflict in the North African country.

The political talks in neighboring Tunisia bring together 75 delegates selected by the UN to represent a broad range of constituencies, but observers have criticized the way they were chosen and cast doubts over their clout in a country where two administrations are already vying for power.

The UN said Friday that the delegates had agreed to hold national elections on December 24 next year, without specifying whether these would be presidential, parliamentary or both.

The Tunisia talks were also meant to produce a temporary executive to govern in the interim, providing services to a country battered by economic woes and the coronavirus pandemic as well as the conflict.

The meetings came in parallel with military talks earlier in the week to fill in the deals of an October ceasefire deal that formally ended over a year of fighting between forces backing rival administrations.

The UN’s former envoy to Libya and the architect of the current UN process, Ghassan Salame, told AFP on Friday he had higher hopes than ever for peace, citing “an accumulation of positive factors”.

But observers remain wary, noting the numerous previous deals that have failed to bring an end to the war.

Libya has been split since 2014 between rival factions in the west, held by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), and the east, home to general Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

In 2019, general Haftar, who was backed by Russia and the United Arab Emirates, launched an offensive to seize Tripoli.

But after a year of bloody stalemate on the edges of Tripoli his forces were repelled by the GNA forces backed by Turkey.

That led to a formal ceasefire deal in October. Elected Libyan officials called Saturday for a constitution to be approved before national elections are held, without challenging the date of the polls.

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