Tunisia to host Libya’s ‘political and military talks’ in early November: Williams

Reem El-Sabaa , Sunday 11 Oct 2020

The so-called LPDF will involve both virtual sessions—which will begin on 26 October—and face-to-face meetings

Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita chairs a meeting of representatives of Libya's rival administrations in the coastal town of Bouznika, south of Rabat

Head of the UN support mission in Libya and UN chief’s acting special representative Stephanie Williams announced on Sunday that Tunisia will host “ intra’ Libyan political and military talks” in early November.

Williams said talks will be based on the UN Security Council resolution 2510 that backed the conclusion of January’s Berlin Conference on Libya.

“The overall objective of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) will be to generate consensus on a unified governance framework, and arrangements that will lead to the holding of national elections in the shortest possible timeframe in order to restore Libya’s sovereignty and the democratic legitimacy of Libyan institutions,” Williams said.

The so-called LPDF will involve both virtual sessions—which will begin on 26 October—and face-to-face meetings. Williams praised Tunisia for hosting the face-to-face meetings amid the “ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in order to protect the health of the participants”.

Talks in Tunisia will come ahead of the so-called 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) in Geneva that will start on 19 October. Geneva’s meetings will “build on previous deliberations, and on the recommendations that emerged from the meeting held in Hurghada from 28 to 30 September, hosted by the Egyptian authorities, under UNSMIL auspices”.

Talks in Tunisia will follow earlier ones in Egypt’s Red Sea resort city of Hurghada and Morocco’s coastal town of Bouznika, south of the capital Rabat in September.

In Morocco, parties to the Libyan conflict agreed on the "criteria, transparent mechanisms, and objectives" for key power positions.

Negotiations in Hurghada 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.

Libya has been divided between two authorities in Tripoli and Tobruk for six years. While the Government of National Accord (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."

Speaker Aguila Saleh of the eastern-based House of Representatives announced a ceasefire which was welcomed by world leaders.

The two warring parties agreed to hold elections in March 2021.

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