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Libya's talks on a democratic future back on stage

The meeting takes place in a context marked by the fragility of the unity government's political stability and the threat of Marshal Haftar
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ONU/VIOLAINE MARTIN  -   General view of the first day of the Libya Political Dialogue Forum at an undisclosed location, Switzerland, 1 February 2021

The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum resumes meetings on the constitutional proposal, formulated by the UN, for the organisation of the next elections in Libya. Through a virtual session, it is expected to discuss the constitutional basis for the holding of the next elections scheduled for 24 December.

In addition, a communiqué said that the aim of the meeting is to witness the vote on one of the four proposals of the consensus committee on the future constitutional basis. On the other hand, the UN Secretary General's special envoy, Jan Kubis, stressed the need for "none of these proposals to prejudice the holding of elections within the deadline set for the road map", in a situation marked by high political tensions and instability. 

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AFP/MICHAEL SOHN- German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Libyan Prime Minister Abdul hamid Dbeiba, Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush and UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary Dicarlo

In this regard, in the last few hours, the UN Mission deployed in Libya has expressed "deep concern" over the "kidnapping" and "disappearance" of the chief of staff of the deputy prime minister of the unity government in Libya, Rida Faraj Fraitis. In a statement, the UN said that "unidentified armed men abducted Fraitis, following his visit to the Unity Government's facilities in Tripoli". They also stressed that "the fate and whereabouts" of the senior official remains "unknown". According to the UN, "this has serious consequences for the peace and reconciliation process and for the full unification of national institutions".

In the latest mission approved by the UN in September 2019, the Security Council further requested the Secretary-General to assess the measures necessary to achieve a durable ceasefire, to evaluate the possible role of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) in providing support to the ceasefire on a large scale, as well as to implement the necessary steps to move the political process forward from its current trajectory. It was also demanded that a report on progress towards these goals be included in the UN's regular reports. 

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AFP/MAHMUD TURKIA  -  Libya's Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Transitional Government of National Unity (GNU), Najla al-Mangoush

For its part, the UN has maintained the Support Mission since 16 September 2011, with the aim of supporting the political process in Libya through mediation. In addition, UNSMIL ensures the observance and enforcement of human rights, as well as coordinating international aid and providing humanitarian assistance.

On the other hand, the interim government set up in March, headed by Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeiba, has had a disagreement with General Jalifa Haftar in the last few hours after the latter declared that his military forces "are not subject to any authority".

On the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the creation of the Libyan National Army, Haftar made a speech in which he stressed that his forces "will not fall into deception in the name of civilian life", according to the Libyan daily, The Lybia Observer. He also stressed that the army had managed to fight "waves of terrorists who came to Libya to kill and behead" and added that "they are a pillar of the people's demands". 

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PHOTO/ARCHIVO -  Marshal Khalifa Haftar

He added that his forces "will stand firm, no matter how sophisticated the conspirators are in deceit in the name of civilisation or not", a statement that has been seen as a coup against the agreement that was established earlier this year to execute the formation of a national unity government.

Haftar himself initially expressed his support for the Unity Government last February, which was initially tasked with approving the budget, as well as organising the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, in a process of "peaceful and democratic alternation of power". He also expressed his support by offering "the support of the armed forces for the peace process, to defend democracy and the peaceful transfer of power". His stance in favour of the political route thus moved away from his attempts to seize power through military force. The signing of a ceasefire in October and the creation of a unified government in March ruled out the possibility of military rule in the country.

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AFP/AFP- Map showing areas of control of forces in Libya. World powers meet in Berlin on Wednesday to seek a lasting peace in the conflict-torn North African country.

Libyan analyst Mahmoud Jafallah said that his approach to the political track was a result of his realisation that "the only possible way out was political", without which he could "lose his interests in Libya". This was compounded by the loss of strong support in the east of the country, especially from powerful tribes that were favourable to the marshal.

In Cyrenaica, a region on the northwest coast, the tribal system remains important and it is now the tribes themselves who reject Haftar's proposals after reproaching him for "having involved their sons in a war where many died for nothing".

Now, the new Executive is undertaking the task of ensuring that the next elections are held under UN supervision, through which it hopes to resolve the institutional crisis that has been going on since 2014, after Haftar ordered the dissolution of the General Congress in Tripoli, dominated at the time by the Muslim Brotherhood. This dissolution led to a civil war that ended up turning into a mercenary battle in which around 1,700 people have died and 130,000 have been displaced.