UN says success of Libyan National Conference is vital for peace

Security Council urged Libyans to unite in this 'Libyan-led, Libyan-owned process'

Ghassan Salame, UN special envoy for Libya and head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), delivers a speech at the mission headquarters in the capital Tripoli on March 20, 2019.  / AFP / Mahmud TURKIA
Powered by automated translation

Libya’s upcoming National Conference will provide a crucial opportunity for the country’s warring sides to reconcile their feuds and achieve peace, the UN Security council said late on Tuesday.

The long awaited meeting, will be held in the Libyan city of Ghadames, between April 12 and 16, and is expected to mediate a political solution to the conflict and pave the way for planned elections later this year.

Members of the Security Council urged those attending “to come together to engage in good faith in this Libyan-led, Libyan-owned process”.

The council called on the international community to unite in support of the UN Special Envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, during “this critical phase” of the country’s transition.

It reiterated its support for Mr Salame’s efforts to “mediate a political way forward in Libya that would lead to creditable and peaceful elections.”

The UN, supported by western powers, has sought for almost two years to organise elections and end eight years of conflict.

The proposed date of December 10 came and went because of a lack of progress in resolving differences between the heavily divided nation's rival powers.

A western-backed administration in Tripoli and a rival pro-military government in the east are jockeying for power and control of the country’s oil wealth, along with a number of armed militias.

The country is split between those who support the government led by Prime Minister Fayez Al Sarraj in the capital and those that back Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s administration in the east.

Leaders of the rival administrations have agreed to set the stage for general elections during talks in Abu Dhabi last month.

They also discussed a possible power-sharing agreement.

Earlier this month, Mr Salame said that 120 delegates are expected to take part in the conference.

“We are working with many parties to ensure as broad a buy-in as possible to the political process,” the envoy said.

“If the opportunity presented by the National Conference is not seized, then we will be faced with only two possible options: prolonged stalemate or conflict.”

UN efforts to reach a political settlement and restore stability have so far failed.

The African Union in January called for a global conference in July to try to resolve the conflict in Libya.

It asked the Union's commission "to take, jointly with the UN and the Libyan government, all the necessary measures for the organisation of presidential and legislative elections in October 2019".

The Union's current chief, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, has underscored the need for "African solutions to African problems".

Libya has been in a social and political turmoil since dictator Muammar Qaddafi was toppled and killed in 2011.