UN political chief in Libya to push elections

BENGHAZI: The United Nations’ political chief held talks on Thursday with the head of Libya’s parliament about elections to be held under a UN plan to stabilize the strife-ridden country.
Jeffrey Feltman, who is on a tour of Libya and Tunisia, traveled to the eastern town of Al-Qobba where the parliament is based for the meeting with speaker Aguila Saleh.
“The meeting, attended by the UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame, focused on the elections scheduled for this year,” said parliament spokesman Abdallah Bleheq.
The elections “should meet the expectations of the people and appease the various political actors,” he told AFP.
A 2015 UN-brokered deal that saw the establishment of a Government of National Accord was meant to calm years of chaos that followed the ouster of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
But Libya has remained mired in violent turmoil as the country is riven by divisions between the GNA in Tripoli and a rival administration backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar in the east.
On Wednesday in the capital, Feltman met Fayez Al-Sarraj, head of the internationally recognized GNA.
It is struggling to assert its authority across the country, especially because of the presence of a parallel administration in the east.
In September, the UN presented the plan to hold legislative and presidential elections by the end of 2018 as the GNA’s mandate neared the end of its two-year lifespan with no solution to the crisis in sight.
Analysts have expressed skepticism that elections will help end the bitter divisions, and say they could in fact increase tensions between Libya’s rival camps.
Feltman acknowledged on Wednesday that “credible elections will require an understanding in terms of political agreements” as well as new legislation and the necessary security conditions.
But he insisted the UN wants “to do our part in promoting the political, the security, the technical and the legislative condition to see that the Libyan people’s desire for thes
e elections can be realized this year.”
In December, Haftar said he would support elections but also implied he would seize power if the polls did not occur.
Haftar — who never recognized the GNA’s authority — has insisted the unity government has lost all legitimacy after the expiry of the 2015 agreement at the end of last year.


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