UN chief welcomes deal by Libya rivals to hold elections

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has welcomed an agreement between Libya’s rival factions to hold national elections.

The deal was struck in a meeting on Wednesday in the United Arab Emirates’ capital between Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, head of Libya’s U.N.-recognized government in Tripoli in the west, and Gen. Khalifa Hifter, the commander of Libya’s national army which dominates the east.

In a statement sent out late on Friday, Guterres commended both sides’ “agreement on the need to end the transitional stages in Libya through the holding of general elections.”

Hifter and Sarraj in May 2018 agreed to hold nationwide elections by the end of the year, but disputes delayed the plans.

Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 ouster and killing of long-serving leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Gaddafi’s death created a governance void that various factions sought to fill, leading to clashes that killed tens of thousands and displacement of millions of people.

Regional and international players have been pressuring the Libyan factions to dialogue in order to return the country to peace.

A final date for the elections has not been agreed upon yet, but is expected to made public soon.