Libyan leader offers to stage all-inclusive national conference in search for peace

Fayez Al Sarraj called for a resumption of the UN-led peace process

Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj speaks during a press conference in the capital Tripoli on July 16, 2019.  / AFP / Mahmud TURKIA

The Libyan prime minister has offered to try to find a way out of the recent spiral of violence through a national forum to include all of the country’s factions.

Speaking at the Concordia conference in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Monday, Fayez Al Sarraj called for a resumption of the UN-led peace process.

“We can hold a Libya forum where all of the factions and people in Libya are invited and can work out a road map for the forthcoming stage, including parliamentary and presidential elections,” said Mr Al Sarraj, leader of the Government of National Accord.

“The UN can handle the logistics. We are not going to abandon our principles.”

He said he regretted the failure of international conferences in France and Italy, and a meeting with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, leader of the Libyan National Army, that was mediated in Abu Dhabi this year. Since the breakdown of talks, fighting has cost hundreds of lives in Tripoli, where the LNA is battling militias allied to the GNA.

“We were keen on getting all of the factions together and the only condition is that they sign up to the national accord,” Mr Al Sarraj said.

“We participated in a lot of meetings in full commitment, in the Paris and Palmyra conferences, for example.”

Mr Al Sarraj sought to blame the international community for the country’s divisions and failed political system.

“The UN and the international community are to blame,” he said. “They did not deal firmly with people who put obstacles in the way of these agreements.”

Vast amounts of weapons in Libya made conflict inevitable, Mr Al Sarraj said. “If the country cannot control the arsenal of weapons we will never be able to control the violence,” he said. Despite this, Mr Al Sarraj said the Libyan authorities were co-operating with the US on counter-terrorism.

He said the US Africa Command continued to be active against ISIS in Libya.

“The battle against terrorism is still going on in conjunction with Africom,” Mr Al Sarraj said. “Our battle with terrorism will not end.”