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Libya: officials meet with US envoys about elections and army unification

TRIPOLI, LIBYA - DECEMBER 20: US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland speaks to press on the presidential elections scheduled for 24 December in Libya on December 20, 2021 in Tripoli, Libya. ( Hazem Turkia - Anadolu Agency )
US Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland speaks to press on the presidential elections scheduled for 24 December in Libya on December 20, 2021 in Tripoli, Libya. [Hazem Turkia - Anadolu Agency]

Discussions have been held in Tripoli between Libyan officials and US diplomats looking at ways to resolve the current crisis by providing a constitutional basis for parliamentary and presidential elections, as well as the unification of the military, Anadolu has reported..

"I expressed US support for exerted efforts to secure the departure of mercenaries, foreign fighters and all foreign forces," said the US special envoy to Libya Richard Norland on Twitter after his meeting with General Mohamed Al-Haddad, the Chief of Staff of the Army of the Government of National Unity. "I warned of their firm foot in Libya, and we discussed the promising efforts to form a joint unit as a first step towards reunifying the Libyan military forces."

Libya has had two conflicting governments since March. One is headed by Fathi Bashagha and was assigned by the House of Representatives in Tobruk; the other is the Government of National Unity recognised by the UN and headed by Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh. The latter refuses to hand over unless it is to a government appointed by a newly-elected parliament.

"The Presidential Council briefed me on the efforts exerted to resolve the political impasse, promote reconciliation, equitable distribution of resources, and the formation of a joint military unit," explained Norland. "It is clear that the Libyans got bored from delays and want to see an agreement on a constitutional basis that leads to elections and a unified government that can provide the services and achieve the peace that Libyans deserve."

The US envoy and his colleague Leslie Ordeman, Charge d'Affaires at the US Embassy in the Libyan capital, also met with the President of the High Council of State, Khaled Al-Mishri. Norland pointed out that they talked about the importance of reaching a consensus on a constitutional basis with the House of Representatives and moving quickly to elections.

He affirmed that he shares the Libyans' sense of frustration because no progress has been made in the movement towards elections, especially with the approach of the first anniversary of their postponement. The elections could not be held on 24 December last year as scheduled, due to disagreements between state institutions, especially over electoral laws.

Libyans hope that elections will lead to the transfer of power and end the armed conflicts that have plagued their oil-rich country for years.

READ: ICC prosecutor visits Libya to boost accountability for war criminals

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