Libyan official Mohammed Al Menfi has urged the country's feuding politicians to work in the national interest and take part in elections in December or face the risk of a return to civil war.
Mr Al Menfi, Chairman of Libya’s Presidential Council, told the UN in New York that Libya was at a “fate-defining moment” after an eastern-based parliament this week withdrew its support from the country’s unity government.
“We are faced with serious challenges and quick-paced developments … which could, in turn, undermine the looming elections and bring us back to square one,” he told the gathering of world leaders.
Mr Al Menfi urged “leaders of relevant political and military institutions to facilitate reaching an agreement on effective guarantees to maintain the political process and conducting safe, transparent, fair elections, with results acceptable to all”.
Unless Libya’s politicians operate with a “spirit of compromise” by “placing the interest of the state above all”, they could send the country back into civil war.
“We either succeed in the democratic transition by means of fair, transparent elections … then move towards a sustained stability and prosperity, or we fail and relapse into division and armed conflict,” Mr Al Menfi said.
On Wednesday, eastern Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar paved the way to stand for president in the planned December 24 legislative and presidential election.
Field Marshal Haftar said he would step down from his military role for three months.
Libyan media said the move opened the way for him to run as a presidential candidate under a controversial new law.
National elections have been promoted as a way to end Libya’s decade-long crisis, but bitter arguments over legitimacy may unravel the months-long peace process.
The election was mandated last year by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, a UN-selected assembly that set a road map for peace in Libya through a unity government and a nationwide vote.
The Libyan Parliament passed a vote of no confidence in the unity government this week, another blow to UN-backed peace efforts.
Eighty-nine of the 113 members who attended the session in the eastern city of Tobruk voted to withdraw support from the Tripoli-based administration of interim Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah.
The UN estimates there are more than 20,000 mercenaries, including Russians and Syrians, in Libya, and foreign troops, most of them Turkish.