UN Libya envoy welcomes ‘positive development’ in Hurghada talks

Bassem Aly , Sunday 4 Oct 2020

File photo: The Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Political Affairs in Libya, United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Stephanie Williams gives a press statement at the end of a follow-up meeting on Libya, on the sidelines of the 56th Munich Security Conference (MSC) in Munich, southern Germany, on February 16, 2020 (Photo: AFP)

UN special representative on Libya Stephanie Williams welcomed on Sunday the “positive development” witnessed during talks between the warring parties in the Red Sea resort city of Hurghada.

Williams, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, pointed out that trust was being built between the Libyan delegations in Hurghada, hoping that negotiations will end with “a permanent ceasefire agreement.”

She noted that the ceasefire deal, agreed upon in August, between the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord’s (GNA) head Fayez Al-Sarraj and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives’ speaker Aguila Saleh led the Libyans themselves to suggest holding talks in Egypt.

Previous talks in Hurghada—which took place in late September—saw an agreement between the Libyan parties to work on the release of all prisoners and protect the North African state’s oil and gas facilities to completely resume production and export activities.

Williams added that most of the Libyan parties are "now more convinced than ever before that the solution to the conflict has to be 'political'," stressing that military intervention and imposing blockades on natural resources did not lead to positive outcomes.

“Nothing remains for the Libyans except a political solution to solve their disagreements and divisions. Build a state that includes everyone and allows people to live with dignity,” Williams emphasised.

Libya has been divided between two authorities in Tripoli and Tobruk for six years. While the GNA is based in Tripoli, the capital, Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA) controls the east and is allied to the Tobruk-based House of Representatives.

The LNA is backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, France, and Russia; while the GNA is backed by Turkey, Qatar, and thousands of Syrian mercenaries.

On 22 August, both parties to the conflict declared a ceasefire that ended fears about possible GNA aggression against the port city of Sirte, 370 kilometres east of the capital Tripoli and Jufra, which has a major military airbase.

GNA head Al-Sarraj announced on Facebook that he "issued instructions to all military forces to immediately cease fire and combat operations in all Libyan territories."

Saleh announced a ceasefire which was welcomed by world leaders. The two warring parties agreed to hold elections in March 2021.

Talks in Hurghada followed an earlier round of diplomacy in Morocco’s coastal town of Bouznika, south of the capital Rabat, last month. In Bouznika, both parties agreed on the "criteria, transparent mechanisms and objectives" for key power positions.

After Morocco’s talks, Williams called on the "international community to shoulder its responsibilities to support this process and to unequivocally respect the Libyan people's sovereign right to determine their future."


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