Participants in talks in Switzerland will vote next week to pick a three-person presidential council and a prime minister to oversee preparations for this year's national election.

A general view of the talks between the rival factions in the Libya conflict at the United Nations offices in Geneva, Switzerland on October 20, 2020
A general view of the talks between the rival factions in the Libya conflict at the United Nations offices in Geneva, Switzerland on October 20, 2020 (Reuters)

Participants at Libya's UN-sponsored peace talks have approved a list of candidates seeking to lead a transitional government that will prepare the North African state for a national election at the end of 2021.

The transitional government will oversee preparations for the vote that aims to end a decade of chaos and conflict that has left Libya split down the middle and hammered its vital oil exports on which the country's economy depends.

The 75 participants at talks in Switzerland, ranging from regional and tribal figures to representatives of political factions, will vote next week to pick a three-person presidential council and a prime minister.

They will pick from 24 candidates for the three presidential council posts, while 21 people are vying for the post of prime minister, according to the UN list released on Saturday.

While UN-backed talks have progressed, many Libyans fear competition for posts could yet trigger fresh fighting, unravelling a ceasefire that has largely held since October.

READ MORE: UN says breakthrough achieved in Libya transition talks

Internal divisions

Libya has been riven since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011, one of several autocrats ousted after decades of rule during uprisings that swept the Arab world.

Since 2014, Libya has been split between an internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west, based in the capital Tripoli, and its opponents led by warlord Khalifa Haftar based in Benghazi in the east. Armed groups have seized control of key state institutions.

In the chaos, foreign powers have backed rival camps. Turkey has supported the internationally recognised GNA in Tripoli, while Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have backed warlord Haftar's militia in the east.

Participants at the UN talks agreed a formula for voting on the candidates for the transitional government this month.

The list of approved candidates includes Aguila Saleh, president of Libya’s Tobruk-based House of Representatives, while they also include the GNA's Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, Defence Minister Saleh Namroush and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeg.

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Source: Reuters