Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah holds international conference with Western, regional and United Nations representatives to resolve Libya’s toughest issues ahead of general elections scheduled for December at Coronthia Hotel in Tripoli, Libya , Thursday, October 21, 2021 (Photo AP)
“Your presence is proof that we are on the road to peace “, declared the head of the interim government, Abdelhamid Dbeibah, promising that the vote would be held” in time “and calling for” respect for the results “.“.
Libya and the UN are working to turn the page on the violence that has rocked the country since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
A ceasefire between eastern and western factions last year led to the unity government taking office in March with a mandate to lead the country to elections..
“Tripoli has recovered. It is the capital of all Libyans, âsaid Dbeibah in his opening speech at the Libya Stability Support Conference, the first of its kind to be held in the country in years..
The presidential vote is due to take place on December 24, but parliamentary elections have been delayed, with a date to be set in the new year, amid feuds between factions in the east and west of the country.
Foreign powers have supported various parties in Libya’s complex war, and the presence of mercenaries and foreign troops is one of the most difficult obstacles to lasting peace..
“There is no stability without full national sovereignty, âLibyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangouch said..
– ‘More precarious‘-
UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo insisted on the importance of the December elections to “complete the transitional phase“.
She called on international organizations to send “special envoys to observe this operation” and to ensure its transparency.
As Libya faces multiple accusations of mistreating irregular migrants, DiCarlo urged authorities to speed up the repatriation of refugees stranded there and release migrants in detention.
Foreign powers have been pushing for elections to take place as scheduled, after the date was agreed in UN-led talks last year.
The meeting aims to “gather the necessary support, in a transparent manner” for the vote, Mangoush said in a video released by his ministry on Sunday..
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was expected at the conference, as well as Italian, Turkish, Saudi and Egyptian officials. The United States was to be represented by Yael Lempert, a senior State Department official.
The process leading up to the elections was hampered by deep disagreements over the legal basis for the vote, which, according to Libyan expert Emadeddin Badi, “was becoming increasingly precarious by the day.“.
But, he added, the conference aims to “capitalize on the momentum to see Libya stabilized, as several countries actually want to see Libya stable, even if on their own terms.“.
– Foreign fighters –
One of the main themes of the conference was the presence of foreign fighters, said Mangoush, who called them “a threat not only to Libya but to the whole region.“.
Last December, the UN estimated that 20,000 foreign fighters were present in Libya.
They include Russians sent by the shadowy Wagner group linked to the Kremlin, African and Syrian mercenaries, and Turkish soldiers deployed under a deal with a previous unity government at the height of the latest round of east-west fighting. ..
Minimal progress since a January deadline for their departure under a ceasefire agreement reflects the complexity of the issue.
Earlier this month, a joint commission of military commanders from East and West agreed on a roadmap for their departure, but a timeline was missing.
Tripoli said a “very modest” number of fighters had left.
Also on Libya’s list of woes is the issue of integrating and unifying the country’s armed forces under a single command – forces which, just last year, were shooting at each other..