Libya’s rivals meet to discuss transitional government

CAIRO (AP) — Libya’s rivals began a second round of talks on Monday on a mechanism to choose a transitional government that would lead the conflict-stricken country to elections in December next year, the United Nations (UN) said.

UN acting envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams headed the online meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum a week after the first round of the talks in Tunisia failed to name an executive authority.

The 75-member forum reached an agreement to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on December 24, 2021. They also agreed to name a volunteer legal committee to work on the “constitutional basis for the election”.

“You made significant steps forward and raised the Libyan people’s hopes and expectations for the holding of national elections. There is much work left to be done to alleviate the suffering of Libyans,” Williams told the participants.

Libya is split between a UN-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.

Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission Stephanie Williams. PHOTO: AP

The next virtual meeting was scheduled today “to allow participants to study the selection options” presented in Monday’s gathering, the mission said in a statement without offering details.

The political forum 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 UN mission in Libya said last week it was investigating allegations of bribes paid to some participants in the forum to vote for certain names to be part of the transitional government.

The mission did not name anyone but vowed to impose international sanctions on anyone obstructing the talks.

The forum took place amid a heavy international push to reach a peaceful settlement to Libya’s conflict. Previous diplomatic initiatives have all collapsed.

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