UN envoy says hard to hold Libya elections in December

UN envoy says hard to hold Libya elections in December
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Tripoli: The UN envoy to Libya told AFP that it will be difficult to hold elections as hoped on December 10, following a new wave of fighting in the North African nation.

“There is still a lot to do. It may not be possible to respect the date of December 10,” Ghassan Salame said in an interview.

Rival Libyan leaders agreed to a Paris-brokered deal in May to hold a nationwide poll by the end of the year.

But Salame said that polls may not be organised before “three or four months”.

“We can hold elections in the near future, yes. But certainly not now,” he added in the interview on Saturday evening at the highly fortified UN mission in Tripoli.

Militia clashes in Tripoli’s suburbs have left more than 100 people dead since late August.

Libya remains divided between the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east that enjoys support from Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

The GNA was set up under a 2015 UN-brokered deal that raised hopes of an easing of the chaos that followed the 2011 NATO-backed revolution which ousted Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The Paris meeting brought together for the first time GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj and military strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army dominates the country’s east.

Also present were Aguila Saleh Issa, the parliament speaker based in the eastern city of Tobruk, and Khalid Al-Mishri, the head of the High Council of State.

The Paris agreement included a September 16 deadline to come up with an electoral law, forming the “constitutional base” for a vote later in the year.

But many observers have said the timetable was overly ambitious given ongoing instability and territorial disputes across the country, along with a economy that is flagging despite Libya’s vast oil wealth.

The United Nations is hoping that presidential and parliamentary elections will help turn the page on years of chaos in Libya.

On Monday France called for stronger UN sanctions on Libyans who stand in the way of a political solution.