The U.N. envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame said there was a “genuine will to start negotiating” between rival military factions as they planned to meet for the first time for talks in Geneva aimed at establishing a lasting ceasefire.(Image: archive)
The Geneva talks bring together five senior military officers from Libyan National Army led by Marshall Haftar and five from militia aligned with Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, chaired by Fayez al-Sarraj.
“We started yesterday (3/02/2020) to discuss with them a long list of points on our agenda, starting on an attempt to transform the truce into a more solid one, less often violated by either side and also to transform that truce into a real agreement on a lasting ceasefire,” Salame said.
Both rivals relay on foreign support in their bid for power. While Marshall Haftar is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, and Russia, the experts and diplomats claim, the GNA is openly supported militarily by Ankara, declaring it would enter the combat if attempts to overtake Tripoli persist.
Hundreds of militants from the Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria are moving to Libya to participate in hostilities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“The second aspect, associated with the risks and threats arising from the Idlib de-escalation zone, is the movement of hundreds of militants, including the Nusrovites and Heyat Tahrir al-Sham fighters, to Libya to participate in building up hostilities in this country,” – Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
The extraordinary session of the Foreign Affairs Council, chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, takes place in Brussels today. It will start with a discussion on current affairs.
Under this item, the Council will consider the evolving situation in Libya. In the margins of the meeting, ministers will be informally briefed on the same subject by the UN Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), Mr Ghassan Salamé.
“The shocking attack on the Tajoura detention centre that caused the death of dozens of refugees and migrants and injured many more, including children and women, is a stark reminder of how the war in Libya is affecting civilians. We condemn it in the strongest terms. All violence against civilians is unacceptable. We welcome any fact finding mission undertaken by the UN and look forward to its results” says the text of the Declaration issued by the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini on behalf of the bloc on the latest developments in Libya.
“We call for an immediate de-escalation and for an end to the fighting, and we urge actors to refrain from the systematic use of incitement to violence and promptly return to the UN led mediation process. We reiterate that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Libya and we call on all UN Member States to fully respect their obligations to contribute to Libya’s peace and stability, prevent destabilizing arms shipments, safeguard Libya’s oil resources and protect its infrastructure in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The ongoing conflict is destabilising Libya and the entire region and has increased the risk of terrorism and of the tragic loss of human lives, also at sea.
“We fully support UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ghassan Salamé in his efforts to restore confidence, achieve a cessation of hostilities, promote inclusive dialogue and create the conditions for the resumption of the UN led political process. It is indispensable to relaunch the UN led mediation process to promote an inclusive government representing all Libyans, prepare for credible parliamentary and presidential elections, ensure a fair and transparent distribution of national wealth and advance the reunification of all Libyan sovereign institutions.
“We remind all Libyan parties and institutions of their responsibility to protect civilians, safeguard civilian infrastructure, allow full humanitarian access and ensure protection for humanitarian workers under International Humanitarian Law. The EU stands ready to urgently step up collective efforts to address the situation, and in particular, to improve protection and assistance to migrants and refugees. In this regard, we welcome the UNHCR and IOM work in Libya and reiterate our full support to their mission and activities.”
Tajoura held at least 600 migrants and refugees—including women and children. The airstrike that left scores dead, also left dozens injured. The casualty toll from an air strike on a detention camp for migrants near the Libyan capital Tripoli has climbed to 53 dead and 130 wounded, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported.
The UN envoy for Libya Ghassan Salame expressed hope for another attempt to hold an election by June 2019 after he abandoned scheduled one for December this year, but he added that Libyans should first use a national conference early 2019 to decide on the poll’s format. Ambassador expressed himself at margins of the conference taking place on 12-13 of November “For Libya with Libya” in Palermo, Italy.
The diplomat announced the decision to abandon plans of this year elections scheduled on December 10 after a break out of violence, which has not come to the halt since the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. However it is not clear if the adjusted new schedule will go through after the rejection of the the major political rival of he Western-backed Chairman of the Natiional Accord Governemnt in Tripoli Fayez Al-Sarraj to take part in the tailored discussion on the second day of the conference.
Reportedly Marshall Khalifa Haftar aides indicated that the commander, in case he arrives, will discuss exclusively combating terrorism and will not attend plenary sessions on November, 12 focused on finding a modality for a political deal to end ongoing fighting among Libya‘s multiple militias and other factions.
The Conference on Libya is hosted by Prime minister Guiseppe Conte, whose chances of making it into a success are slim in absence of will to compromise between two major rivals – Al-Sarraj and Haftar, and lack of interest from the leadership of France and Germany, who did not attend the event.
“It’s fundamental to seize this opportunity to back the cease-fire, to facilitate discussions for the realizations of new security assets in Tripoli and to show the international community’s determination to sustain the creation and deployment of regular armed forces and security forces,” Conte was quoted as interviewed by La Stampa.
This week the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini attended the International Conference on Libya organised in Paris, the event aims to support the United Nations ongoing work to forge a lasting solution to the crisis in Libya and implement the UN action plan.
The European Union continues to encourage and accompany the political process in Libya under the lead provided by the United Nations, including within the Libya Quartet together with the African Union and the League of Arab States.
The diplomat had a number of bilateral meetings in the margins of the conference. In the afternoon, the same day Mogherini addressed the situation in Libya at the plenary meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The Paris meeting, included eastern Libya leader Marechal Khalifa Haftar, backed by Tobruk Parliament; Tripoli Prime minister Fayez el-Sarraj, backed by the UN, and the leaders of rival parliamentary assemblies, aimed to urge them to agree general principles for ending the conflict and moving towards elections.
Although there were signatures, the conference was concluded by a statement, fixing elections on December, 10, however there should be a legal framework adopted mid-September.
“The parties have committed to set the constitutional basis for elections and adopt the necessary electoral laws by September 16, 2018 and hold Parliamentary and Presidential elections on December 10, 2018,” the statement said.
EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini received UN Special Representative for Libya Ghassan Salame in Brussels.
The diplomats discussed recent developments and the current situation in Libya. They reflected upon the implementation of the UN’s four-point action plan for Libya, on the political talks, national conference, constitution and elections, that the Mogherini put forward in September 2017.
Mogherini expressed her thanks and reiterated the EU’s full support to the work of the UN Special Representative in implementing the plan and in his efforts to help Libyans bring about unity and reconciliation in their country.
Both diplomats underlined the fruitful cooperation between the UN and the EU in support of Libya and its people, including on humanitarian issues and the preparation of the national conference and elections.
“The appointment of Mr Ghassan Salamé as United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative for Libya and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) comes at a crucial moment for the Libyan Peace Process”, says the Statement of the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini on the appointment of Ghassan Salamé as UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Libya
“I am confident that with Mr Salamé, the United Nations will stay at the forefront of mediation work with all stakeholders in Libya. I spoke with Mr Salame today and assured him of the EU’s support in his work” – Mogherini said.
“We will continue our excellent cooperation and coordination with UNSMIL in our political and diplomatic work in Libya, including in the framework of the Libya Quartet, alongside the League of Arab States and African Union.”
“On this occasion, I want to pay tribute to Mr Martin Kobler for his work and commitment to advancing peace in Libya.”
“I also met with Prime Minister Sarraj on 21st June to discuss with him how to move ahead as there is an urgent need to find a comprehensive political solution for Libya, in the framework of the Libyan Political Agreement. We will continue the work to bring all parties together, under the auspices of the UN, and promote coherence of international efforts so that the Libyan people can live in a stable and secure Libya.”