GAMMARTH, 10 November 2020 – Factions in Libya’s armed conflict began meeting Monday in neighboring Tunisia to seek ways of bringing about lasting peace as well as prepare for elections in their war-torn country.
There has been relative calm in Libya since a ceasefire was agreed last October between the two major camps, opening the way to a resumption of oil production and signaling the first breakthrough in years of political deadlock.
“You have the opportunity to end a tragic conflict,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told delegates to the talks via video conference.
Guterres has urged world powers to support the peace efforts in Libya and to respect a long-standing U.N. arms embargo in Libya.
Tunisian President Kais Saied who is hosting the talks in Gammarth near the Tunisian capital, Tunis, described them as a “historic moment”.
The most important business for participants to tackle, he said, is to work on how to unify Libya under a single executive and help pave the way for national elections.
Libya disintegrated into violence after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
The United Nations Support Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) created in the aftermath of the Libyan Civil War is facilitating the dialogue between the factions.
The multi-track process for Libya involves military and economic negotiations.
“Elections need to be the ultimate objective here,” the U.N. acting envoy to Libya Stephanie Williams told reporters in Tunis, calling on participants to produce “a clear road map” towards organizing polls as soon as possible.
The two bitterly opposed administrations in Libya are the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital, Tripoli, and the rival administration based in the east of the country, backed by renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.
Haftar is backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
An attack by Haftar forces on Tripoli in April 2019 was beaten back by GNA forces supported by Turkey.
Hundreds were killed in the fighting and tens of thousands of people were internally displaced.
The two factions have been at the negotiating table since September 2020 under talks supported by the United Nations and held under the auspices of Morocco, Egypt, and Switzerland.