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Libya’s fragile unity government on Thursday hosted an international conference to appeal for support as the war-battered country gears up for a landmark election scheduled to hold in December.
Speaking at the conference, the head of the interim government, Abdelhamid Dbeibah, said, ‘Your presence is proof that we are on the road to peace,’ promising that the vote would be held ‘on time’ and urging ‘respect for the results’.
Africa Today News, New York reports that Libya and the UN have been striving to turn the page on the violence that has wracked the country since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
A ceasefire between eastern and western factions last year led to the unity government taking office in March with a mandate to take the country to elections.
‘Tripoli has recovered. It is the capital of all Libyans,’ Dbeibah said in his opening speech at the Conference in Support of the Stability of Libya, the first of its kind to be held in the country for years.
The presidential vote is set to take place on December 24, but legislative polls have been delayed, with a date to be set in the new year, amid wrangling between factions in the country’s east and west.
Foreign powers have backed various sides in Libya’s complex war, and the presence of mercenaries and foreign troops is one of the toughest obstacles to lasting peace.
‘There is no stability without full national sovereignty,’ said Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush.
The UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, insisted on the importance of the December elections to “complete the transitional phase”.
She called on international organisations to send ‘special envoys to observe this operation’ and to guarantee its transparency.
As Libya faces multiple accusations of mistreatment of irregular migrants, DiCarlo urged authorities to speed up the repatriation of refugees stranded there and to release migrants in detention.
Foreign powers have been pushing hard for the election to be held as scheduled after the date was agreed at UN-led talks last year.
The meeting aims to ‘gather the necessary support, in a transparent way’ for the vote, said Mangoush in a video published by her ministry on Sunday.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was expected at the conference, along with officials from Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. The US was to be represented by Yael Lempert, a senior State Department official.
The process toward the elections has been beset by sharp disagreements over the legal basis for the vote, which Libya expert Emadeddin Badi said was ‘becoming more precarious by the day’.
However, he added that the conference aims to ‘capitalise on the momentum to see Libya stabilised, because several countries do actually want to see a stable Libya, even if on their own terms’.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK