Rival governments in Libya start peace talks

To form much needed unity government, rival Libyan groups agree to start peace talks in Geneva

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya and Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Bernardino Leon

New peace talks between rival Libyan governments started on Tuesday in Geneva, in efforts to end the political crisis in the country by creating a unity government.

The representatives of the Tripoli parliament -- General National Congress (GNC) -- joined the negotiations with Tobruk-based House of Representatives were present in the talks.

Two meetings took place last month in Morocco, but both parties boycotted the talks.

The talks started late Tuesday, after being pushed from Monday because of the absence of GNC representative, Saleh al Mahsun, deputy president of Libyan GNC.

The country has been plunged in a violent streak of unrest since the ouster of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Deep political divisions and tribal rivalry yielded two separate government. Each boasts its own institutions and military capacities.

Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk and a General National Congress (GNC) that convenes in Tripoli.

"We are starting a new round of talks with a very clear agenda. This will be on the one hand the 'annexes' and on the other hand the unity government," Bernardino Leon, special representative and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said in a press conference in UN at Geneva on Tuesday.

"We will work in the coming days on the basis of a timetable, which must necessarily be short. Libya is facing huge challenges. We have discussed these already in the past; you don’t need more details on how difficult the situation is in the country," Leon said.

Urging Libyan factions to agree unity government by month-end Leon said, "we are proposing that the parties work in the coming three weeks and try to have agreement on these important two points regarding the annexes and the unity government by the end of August."

"If this were possible -- and this will very much depend on the political will and on the creativity, on the wisdom of the parties to bring good names and good proposals to the table -- then the endorsement, final voting and signing of the agreement could happen in the first weeks of September so that the final conclusion of this process can be achieved before we have the UN General Assembly," he added.

"We are intending to do in the coming three weeks is to discuss the annexes and to discuss the unity government."

"We would like the GNC and all Libyans participating in the process to give the benefit of the doubt to the process." he said.

"What Libya is facing now is deeper chaos and division of the country. So I hope all the Libyan actors will be wise to avoid this scenario, to expedite the talks and to reach an agreement very soon," Leon warned.

"I think it is extremely risky to reach October without an agreement, because we will be in a more chaotic situation. This is why it’s important to have this timeline and to finalize these discussions in the coming three weeks and then to expedite also the endorsement and voting of the agreement," he said.

TRTWorld and agencies