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UN envoy to pursue flagged Libyan election pledges


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UNITED NATIONS – The UN’s new special envoy for Libya said on Monday he planned to follow through on commitments made by the country’s political rivals following a meeting last week that reportedly included the need to to organize presidential and parliamentary elections and to ensure that the divided North Africa country has a single executive power as soon as possible.

Abdoulaye Bathily told the UN Security Council that he planned to meet with the leaders of the eastern-based parliament, the House of Representatives and the western-based High Council of State in the capital Tripoli in the coming weeks “to understand” the agreements announced at the end of their October 21 meeting in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

According to the Moroccan news agency and The North African Post, the speaker of the east-based parliament, Aguila Saleh, and the head of the Supreme Council, Khaled al-Meshri, have agreed to implement a mechanism on the criteria for senior positions agreed to talks in Morocco in October 2020.

Saleh reportedly said the rivals had also agreed “to have a single executive power in Libya as soon as possible” and to relaunch dialogue to reach an agreement on holding presidential elections and legislative. The elections must respect “a clear roadmap and legislation, on the basis of which the elections will take place”, he said during a press briefing after the meeting.

Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, referred to Morocco’s talks in his statement to the Security Council, noting the “‘tangible progress on the political track’ at the October 21 meeting. He said that Saleh and Meshri “had agreed to conclude the efforts to unite the executive structures and distribute the leadership positions therein by the beginning of 2023”.

The UN’s Bathily, a former Senegalese minister and diplomat, said his goal was to get rival leaders to “agree on political, constitutional, legal and security measures to advance election preparations in the as soon as possible, in accordance with the aspirations clearly expressed by the Libyan people.

Libya descended into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The oil-rich North African county has for years been divided between rival administrations in the east and west, each backed by rogue militias and foreign governments.

The country’s current political crisis stems from the failure to hold elections in December 2021 and the refusal of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who led a transitional government, to step down. In response, the country’s east-based parliament appointed a rival prime minister, Fathy Bashagha, who has been seeking for months to install her government in Tripoli.

Bathily told the Security Council that “the political stalemate persists with no clear outcome in sight to the protracted impasse over the executive.”

“Furthermore, efforts to resolve outstanding issues related to the constitutional basis for elections do not appear to be leading to concrete action by relevant actors, further delaying prospects for holding inclusive, free and fair elections. aimed at ending the transition and restoring the legitimacy of the institutions.

Russia’s Polyansky called the internal situation in Libya “alarming” and said the continued division of the country “will only lead to further destabilization of the situation.”

“Evidence of this includes increasingly frequent clashes between armed groups, mobilization activities and large-scale citizen protests,” he said.

Polyansky said, “The primary focus of the UN Security Council right now is to prevent outbreaks of violence from escalating into civil war.

He said one way out of the current impasse was to get Libyans to agree on a new constitution and hold national elections.

US Deputy Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis urged the UN political mission in Libya, known as UNSMIL, to take the lead in pushing for agreement on a constitution, a timetable for elections, “a transparent mechanism” to allocate oil revenues and to get all parties to commit to refraining from the use of force.

Libyan Ambassador to the UN Taher Elsonni told the Security Council that the more than 3 million Libyans registered to vote “have extremely high expectations at the end of this long litany of crises…to express their will”.

He applauded “the glimmers of a consensus which is beginning to emerge” in particular on the appointment of Bathily after a nine-month search in a growing chaos in Libya.

Russia has called the delay unacceptable and has only agreed to extend UNSMIL’s mandate for three months at a time until the Security Council agrees on a new special representative. Polyansky said that with Bathily’s appointment, Russia was now ready to consider a longer term.

Kenya’s Ambassador to the UN, Martin Kimani, speaking on behalf of the three African members of the council, including Gabon and Ghana, who had pushed for an African special representative to the UN, also expressed his concern over “the continuing political stalemate”. He said a substantial one-year term from the council would give Bathily and UNSMIL “the stability to carry out their mandate and demonstrate the council’s continued commitment.”

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