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Libya’s Sarraj calls for elections to save the country

Prime Minister of Libya's unity government Fayez Al-Sarraj addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, US, 22 September 2016. [REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz]
Image of Fayez al-Sarraj, Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord of Libya [File photo]

Presidency Council head Fayez Al-Sarraj has called for elections next year as part of radical changes to the country’s political system.

Amongst the changes announced, the PC head called for a national programme to secure the country’s weapons in order to demobilise militias; a national reconciliation campaign; economic reform; increased spending on public services and a crackdown on corruption, smuggling and human trafficking which Libya has been riddled with.

Al-Sarraj’s proposals were described as a “road map” to unify the country which includes a transitional justice mechanism put in place to resolve the political chaos that has plagued the country since the revolution in 2011.

Reconciliation and amnesties will be used to settle factions across the country with the setting up of the Supreme Council for National Reconciliation, and to give those who have fled violence a chance to return. The Council will have around a hundred members from all towns and cities across Libya who will work out a national conference to discuss how to best to unify current divisions that have torn the country apart.

Read: Egypt army thwarts militant attempt to cross Libyan border

“Not everyone we have disagreed with from home is a terrorist”, Al-Sarraj said in his speech, adding that Libya belongs to all Libyans “without exception”.

As part of his proposals, Al-Sarraj will see the House of Representatives and the State Council set up joint committees to agree an amendment to the Constitutional Declaration that would determine the powers of the head of state.

Al-Sarraj’s speech did not reference any of the figures in Libya’s politics that he has faced opposition from, including Khalifa Ghwell and his militia allies in the west of the country, House of Representatives President Ageela Saleh, interim Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni and Libyan National Army head Khalifa Haftar.

Read more: Fighting persists east of Libya capital, residents displaced

However, he reportedly indirectly referenced Haftar by stating in his proposals that there would be no separation of powers and the military would be unified under civilian authority.

Al-Sarraj’s speech is seen as a tough stance to silence critics who have viewed him as weak since he first took his post as PC head.

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