Libya: UN-Mediated Political Talks on Libya End in Disarray

Ghassan Salamé, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Support MIssion in Libya, briefs the press at the meeting of the 5+5 Libyan Joint Commission in Geneva in February 2020.

U.N.-mediated political talks aimed at resolving the crisis in Libya have ended in disarray, with nothing accomplished except an agreement to meet again next month.

The talks got off to a shambolic start. Before the first round of Libyan political negotiations even began, members of opposition warring groups suspended their participation. U.N. envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame acknowledged that this caught him off guard.

"We were surprised the day the meeting was supposed to start that some people had to leave because they were asked to.  However, those who stayed decided that the occasion was too rare and precious and therefore that the political track should start with those who stayed in Geneva,” Salame said.

Libya has been in a state of crisis ever since rebel military commander Khalifa Haftar attacked Tripoli last April.  The military assault on the capital and seat of the internationally recognized Government of National Accord has killed more than 1,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands.

The U.N. has been pursuing three parallel negotiations. The resolution of Libya’s crisis hangs on the continuation and outcome of those military, economic and political tracks.

Salame said the economic-financial track is going well.  But the military track is in trouble because the warring parties continue to violate a temporary cease-fire.  That, he said, is having a serious effect on the political negotiations.

During the past week, he said, many areas have been hit by shelling, including the Tripoli airport.

"Many areas of the capital have been also shelled.  It is clear that neither one of the three tracks can move positively while the cannon is doing what it is doing right now,”  he said.

Salame is calling on the two sides to respect the truce they had accepted last month during a summit in Berlin. He also is calling on countries of influence, including those that are intervening in Libyan affairs, to put pressure on those that violate the cease-fire and on those that violate the U.N. arms embargo on Libya.

A United Nations report names Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates as chief offenders.

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