The UN envoy to Libya has said that a National Conference will be held in the country in the first weeks of 2019, which should be followed within months by elections.
Western powers and the United Nations had originally hoped to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Dec. 10 as a way out of Libya’s conflict raging since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The envoy, Ghassan Salame, told the UN Security Council that the Conference would give Libyans a forum to discuss their future. He said the internationally recognised House of Representatives had deliberately failed to approve legislation to hold elections.
The decision to hold the conference follows meetings held across Libya by a UN-mandated, non-governmental group in which more than 7,000 people took part. This highlighted the discontent with the corruption, economic chaos and lack of a single unifying government in the country.
Since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 two rival governments and various militias have been fighting for control of Libya.
The U.N. had hoped to unify before a vote Libya’s two rival administrations – a U.N.-backed one in the capital where a rival assembly is also based, and a largely powerless eastern version aligned with commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces control much of the east.
But little progress has been achieved.
“To both Houses, elections are a threat that must be resisted at all costs, but to the citizens, elections are a means of liberation from the ineffective and increasingly illegitimate authorities,” Salame said.
Salame, the sixth U.N. envoy since 2011, had little concrete to offer beyond already stated goals of handing over security in Tripoli to regular forces, a plan resisted by armed groups currently in control.