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UN official: Libya on the verge of collapse

The United Nations Special Envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, said yesterday that Libya is on the verge of economic collapse as rival factions haggle over a political settlement.

Leon, who has been trying for months to reach an agreement to form a national unity government in Libya, added that the United Nations was preparing a new draft for a potential political agreement. The UN hopes to give the draft to the rivalling parties in the first week of June.

There are two governments currently fighting each other in Libya for control of the oil-rich county, one in the East and the other in Tripoli.

Leon said that in the last round of talks in Morocco, the rival groups had agreed on 80 per cent of the agreement and that the negotiators were working on the remaining 20 per cent, which they considered to be the most difficult part.

In a press conference held in Brussels, Leon said that the Libyans understand that the only solution is a political agreement, but that it is difficult to say whether or not it was possible within the next three or four weeks. He warned that Libya was running out of time.

“Libya is on the verge of economic and financial collapse. It is facing huge security threats because of the civil war but also…because of the Daesh threat,” he said, in reference to the Islamic State (ISIS) organisation.

Leon added, “Libya’s economic collapse is a real possibility. Recently, I met with the governor of the central bank. The situation is very difficult in terms of Libyan finances.”

Libya is high on the European Union’s agenda because thousands of refugees fleeing from the conflicts in the Middle East and Africa are using Libya as a starting point for dangerous Mediterranean voyages in an attempt to reach Europe.

European countries are working on preparing a UN Security Council resolution authorising a planned EU mission to destroy migrant traffickers’ boats off the Libyan coast.

Russia, which possesses the right to a Security Council veto, has said that destroying the boats would be a measure that is too extreme, while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also said such action could deprive people of their livelihoods.

“I think we should not dwell on this element of destruction. It is about being effective in fighting these mafias,” Leon said.

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