Leadership vote crucial for lasting unity and peace in Libya: UN envoy

Acting UN envoy for Libya Stephanie Williams delivering remarks at the opening of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum on February 1, 2021. /Photo by Handout / UNITED NATIONS / AFP

The vote on a new Libyan executive is crucial in placing the North African country on the path for lasting unity and peace, according to United Nations negotiator Stephanie Williams.

Williams made the remarks on Monday as delegates gathered in Switzerland for a five-day meeting from which they will pick an interim prime minister and a three-person presidency council.

“This project is not about power sharing or dividing the cake.  Rather, it is to form a temporary government composed of patriots who agree to shoulder and share the responsibility to put Libyan sovereignty and the security, prosperity and welfare of the Libyan people above narrow interests and far from the spectre of foreign interference,” she told the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum

Williams, who is the Acting Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Libya, told the delegates that their fellow citizens were counting on them to bring an end to years of violence.

The Switzerland meeting is a culmination of a process that begun in Berlin in January 2020 to seek a solution to years of violence that has rocked Libya despite ceasefire declarations.

The interim authority to be chosen will seek to rebuild state institutions and lead Libya to a national election on December 24.

Williams said the objective of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum is “to respond to the aspirations and the demands of the Libyan people for a sovereign and unified Libya and for the restoration of democracy, for a true commitment to national reconciliation in word and in deed, for the return of all of those who have been displaced and in exile, for the renewal of the legitimacy of your institutions, and for the need to provide basic services to your people”.

“This will be an open and transparent selection process that all Libyans are going to witness, day by day and minute by minute,” she added.

Libya has been dogged by conflict since the 2011 ouster and killing of former long-serving president Muammar Gaddafi.

Gaddafi’s death left a void that various militant factions sought to fill, sparking violence that led to the deaths of tens of thousands and displacement of millions.