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UN-led Libya talks set December 2021 date for elections

PTI, Nov 14, 2020, 1:54 PM IST

Gammarth: Libya’s warring sides have agreed to hold nationwide elections in December next year, the top UN official for the northern African country said Friday in a sign of progress from the UN-brokered peace talks underway in Tunisia.

The gathering, which started on Monday, was aimed at setting a roadmap out of Libya’s years-long civil war. It is also the latest effort to end the chaos that engulfed the northern African country after the 2011 overthrow and killing of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Previous diplomatic initiatives have repeatedly collapsed.

In a virtual press conference from Tunisia, UN acting envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams said the elections will take place on December 24, 2021, and allow Libyans to “renew, really, the legitimacy of their institutions.”

Earlier this week, she announced that the participants had agreed to hold elections no later than 18 months from now.

The UN had selected 75 delegates from Libya to take part in the week-long forum at a luxury hotel in the Mediterranean town of Gammarth, just outside the capital of Tunis.

The talks came amid heavy international pressure after the warring sides agreed to an UN-brokered ceasefire agreement last month in Geneva.

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

Eastern Libya forces, led by commander Khalifa Hifter, launched an offensive in April 2019 to try and capture Tripoli. His campaign collapsed in June, when the Tripoli-allied militias, with heavy Turkish support, gained the upper hand.

Williams said the election date also holds symbolic value, as it will be the 70th anniversary since Libya declared independence.

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