Middle East

Libya’s rivals meet to discuss transitional government

CAIRO (AP) — Libya’s rivals on Monday began a second round of talks on a mechanism to choose a transitional government that would lead the conflict-stricken country to elections in December next year, the United Nations said.

UN acting envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams headed the online meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum a week after the first round of the talks in Tunisia failed to name an executive authority.

The 75-member forum reached an agreement to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on December 24, 2021. They also agreed to name a volunteer legal committee to work on the “constitutional basis for the election.”

The political forum was the latest effort to end the chaos that engulfed the oil-rich North African nation after the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The UN mission in Libya said last week it was investigating allegations of bribes paid for some participants in the forum to vote for certain names to be part of the transitional government. The mission did name anyone but vowed to impose international sanctions on anyone obstructing the talks.

The forum took place amid a heavy international push to reach a peaceful settlement to Libya’s conflict. Previous diplomatic initiatives have all collapsed.

The warring sides agreed to a UN-brokered cease-fire last month in Geneva, a deal included the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya within three months.

No progress was announced on the issue of foreign forces and mercenaries a month after they inked the cease-fire deal. Thousands of foreign fighters, including Russians, Syrians, Sudanese and Chadians, have been brought to Libya by both sides, according to UN experts.

Libya is split between a UN-supported government in the capital, Tripoli, and rival authorities based in the east. The two sides are backed by an array of local militias, as well as regional and foreign powers.

Stephanie Williams, Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Support Mission speaks during a news conference in Tunis, Tunisia, Sunday, November 15, 2020. Libya’s warring sides have agreed to hold nationwide elections in December next year, the top UN official for the North African country said Friday in a sign of progress from the UN-brokered peace talks underway in Tunisia. (AP Photo/Walid Haddad)

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