Libya’s rivals are meeting to discuss the interim government

CAIRO (AP) – Libya’s rivals began a second round of talks on Monday on a mechanism for selecting a caretaker government to lead the conflict-ridden country to elections in December next year, the UN said.

UN envoy to Libya, Stephanie Williams, chaired an online meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum a week after the first round of talks in Tunisia did not nominate an executive.

The 75-member forum reached an agreement to hold presidential and parliamentary elections on 24 December 2021. They also agreed to appoint a voluntary legal committee to work on the “constitutional foundations of the elections”.

“He has made significant progress and raised the hopes and expectations of the Libyan people for holding national elections. There is a lot of work left to alleviate the suffering of Libyans, ”Williams told participants.

Libya is torn between the UN-backed capital city of Tripoli and its eastern-based rival authorities. The two sides are supported by a number of local militias as well as regional and foreign powers.

The next virtual meeting was scheduled for Wednesday to “allow participants to study selection options,” the mission said in a statement without offering details.

The political forum was the latest effort to end the chaos that flooded the oil-rich North African nation after the overthrow and assassination of dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

The UN mission in Libya last week investigated allegations that bribes paid to some forum participants were being put to vote on certain names as part of an interim government. The mission named anyone, but vowed to impose international sanctions on anyone who obstructs the talks.

The forum took place amid serious international efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Libyan conflict. Previous diplomatic initiatives have all collapsed.

The warring parties agreed on a UN-mediated ceasefire last month in Geneva, an agreement that included the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya within three months.

No progress was reported on the issue of foreign forces and mercenaries a month after the ceasefire was signed. UN experts say thousands of foreign fighters, including Russians, Syrians, Sudanese and Chadians, have been brought to Libya by both sides.

In demonstrating support for the UN mission, France, Germany, Italy and the UK on Monday threatened to “take action” against anyone in the way of negotiations to end the conflict, without clarification.

In a joint statement, the four European countries called on the Libyan parties to “fully implement the ceasefire agreement” and agree on a “mechanism for the fair and transparent use of oil revenues”.

Forces loyal to Khalifa Hifter, a commander allied with the Eastern authorities, announced in September the end of a months-long blockade of the country’s vital oil fields and terminals.

Meanwhile, a militia allied with the Tripoli-based government has tried to break into the city’s National Oil Company’s city center, the company said on Monday.

The NOC said the forces guarding the building were able to prevent the attack without casualties or damage. He did not provide further details.