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Libya welcomes the international community to Tripoli

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, October 21st 2021 à 16:55 | Read 447 times

Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush wants to secure the support of the international community (Photo: GNU)
Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush wants to secure the support of the international community (Photo: GNU)
LIBYA. The new Libyan authorities are counting on the support of the international community to make a success of the transition of their country ravaged by ten years of civil war. They will reiterate this at a "Conference in support of the stability of Libya", organised on Thursday 21 October 2021 in Tripoli. Many representatives of foreign countries, including France, Italy, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Turkey, Qatar, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Chad and Sudan, will attend this meeting. Not to mention those of the UN, the African Union, the Arab League and the European Union.

"Our country has been deprived of international forums for some time and for various reasons. This is an opportunity to give a clear picture of the current situation," said Abdel Hamid Dbeibah. For the new Libyan provisional Prime Minister of the Government of National Unity (GNU) appointed in March 2021, "Libyans are now choosing peace and stability. Tripoli has healed and regained its symbolism as a unified capital. The stability of Libya is the only way to complete the building of our civil, security and military institutions. We are going to the elections on time. Libya welcomes the world!"

Libyan government spokesman Mohamed Hammouda, quoted by the Libyan news agency Lana, said the conference "is a positive step and a conclusive indication that Libya is taking firm steps towards stability. Today we are talking about Libya from the inside, whereas we used to talk about it from the outside. This is a sign and an indication."

Focus on elections

The agenda of the Tripoli Conference includes four points, all closely linked: security, the economy, transitional justice and national reconciliation, and general elections.

The central subject will be the organisation of future elections that are crucial for the future of the country: legislative and presidential. Even if the ceasefire in force since October 2020 should facilitate this return to democracy, the virtual and political partition between the East and the West of the country still remains. The Tobruk Parliament (East) ratified, without a vote, an electoral law on 9 September 2021 favouring its presidential candidate (also supported by Egypt), Marshal Khalifa Haftar, by granting the right to the military to run for elections. This institution also voted on 21 September 2021 a motion of censure against the transitional government.

According to Najla al-Mangoush, Libyan Minister of Foreign Affairs, this meeting should enable "the necessary support to be mobilised in a transparent and equitable manner" to ensure the holding of the elections scheduled for 24 December 2021. A very close deadline that leaves even the highest local authorities sceptical. A deferred election date could emerge from this conference. The hypothesis is in any case on the agenda. The Libyan High State Council (HSC), the equivalent of the Senate, has already indicated, in September 2021, that the date of 24 December would not be tenable and has proposed to postpone the election to the end of 2022. The UN is opposed to this through Ján Kubiš, special envoy for Libya and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (Manul). According to him, "not holding elections could seriously deteriorate the situation in the country, could lead to divisions and conflicts (...) I urge Libyan actors to join forces and ensure inclusive, free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections, which should be seen as an essential step to further stabilise and unite Libya."

Unlocking Libyan assets for investment in the country

Another point discussed was Libya's independence. It requires security in the country while some 20,000 mercenaries, according to the UN, are still on its soil, as well as several Russian, Chadian, Syrian and Sudanese soldiers and especially Turkish, thanks to a bilateral agreement concluded with the previous government of Fayez al-Sarraj (GNA).
Najla al-Mangoush wants to "emphasise the need to respect Libya's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity." This will involve "unifying the Libyan army under a single command and disarming, demobilising and reintegrating the militias", says the minister, who would like to see "the gradual withdrawal of foreign forces.

The participants will also discuss the economic aspect. The time has come for reforms and programmes to develop the economy and return to growth. The government will point out the sectors to be helped, being well aware that to recover the new Libya will need foreign investment. But also to recover the Libyan funds and assets of Muammar Gaddafi and twenty-five of his relatives abroad. Frozen since March 2011 by the countries of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia and Switzerland in particular, after the call for sanctions by the UN, they would be worth about 170 billion dollars. Free elections could break the lock and release these funds.

The last major chapter of the discussions is transitional justice and national reconciliation. The interim government not only wants to support the work of the High Commission for National Reconciliation, but also "to promote human rights awareness through religious discourse and the media" and "to fight against tribalism and regionalism in order to create national unity".

Paris will host another conference on Libya on 12 November 2021. It will be co-chaired by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Luigi Di Maio and Heiko Maas, respectively French, Italian and German foreign ministers.

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