Libya should start elections process in 2019 - UN envoy

Libyan militiamen loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) near Tripoli during clashes in September. (AFP)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Libya should start elections process in 2019 - UN envoy

  • Ghassan Salame said the conference will provide "a platform" for Libyans to spell out their vision for the future
  • French-backed plan to hold elections on Dec. 10 fell apart in September

NEW YORK: A national conference will be held in Libya in the first weeks of 2019 to push for elections that could take place next year, the UN envoy told the Security Council on Thursday.
Ghassan Salame said the conference will provide "a platform" for Libyans to spell out their vision for the future and "no longer be ignored" by those in power in the divided country.
Elections in Libya are meant to turn the page on years of chaos following the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi that has seen a bitter rivalry emerge between two governments scrambling for control of the north African country's oil wealth.
A French-backed plan to hold elections on Dec. 10 fell apart in September when the United States, Russia and other powers at the Security Council refused to back the timetable.
Speaking to the council by videoconference from Tripoli, Salame said the national conference, which has been under discussion since last year, had been delayed because of ongoing fighting and political divisions.
"Now, conditions are more propitious," he said.
"The national conference is to be held in the first weeks of 2019. The subsequent electoral process should commence in the spring of 2019."
The envoy quoted a poll showing that 80 percent of Libyans insist on having elections and stressed that international support for the conference was crucial.
The decision to move ahead with the national conference came ahead of Italian-hosted talks in Sicily next week intended to shore up efforts to bring stability to Libya.
World powers and Arab countries have backed rival groups in the battle for influence in Libya, hindering progress toward a common approach.
In an interview with AFP, the head of Libya's UN-backed government, Fayez Al-Sarraj, appealed for a "common vision" and an end to "negative interventions by some countries."
Libya produces 1.3 million barrels of oil per day, generating $13 billion in revenue in just the first half of this year for the country of 6.5 million people.
But Salame said Libyans have been increasingly impoverished while billions are being stolen from national coffers.


Turkish police arrest ruling party member, eight others after opposition chief attack

Updated 5 min 5 sec ago
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Turkish police arrest ruling party member, eight others after opposition chief attack

  • Opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) was assaulted on Sunday as he attended a funeral in Ankara
  • A video of the attack showed the CHP leader being mobbed and punched

ISTANBUL: Turkish police on Monday arrested nine people, including a member of the ruling AKP party, after a mob attack on opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu that sparked widespread criticism.
Kilicdaroglu, 70, of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) was assaulted on Sunday in a crowd as he attended a funeral in Ankara for a soldier killed fighting Kurdish militants in the southeast.
The attack came days after the opposition CHP won Ankara and Istanbul from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP in March 31 local elections, seen as a major setback for the ruling party after a decade-and-a-half in power.
A video of Sunday’s attack showed the CHP leader being mobbed and punched, then chanting crowds surrounded a house where he was taken for his protection. The images went viral on social media.
CHP leaders blamed Erdogan’s AKP for provoking the attack and demanded those detained be held accountable. They called for the interior minister to resign over the incident.
“This is not an ordinary attack, this is not an ordinary provocation. This is planned,” CHP Istanbul chief Canan Kaftancioglu told several thousands of supporters at a rally from the top of a bus.
The crowds chanted slogans “Shoulder to shoulder against Fascism,” and waved banners reading: “Are you so scared by the CHP’s success?” in reference to the AKP’s loss of Istanbul and Ankara.
During campaigning for the local polls, Erdogan often accused Kilicdaroglu and the CHP of backing the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and showed videos of the opposition leader at his rallies.
Kilicdaroglu was not badly injured in the assault.
The chief suspect in Sunday’s attack, identified only by his initials O.S., was arrested in Sivrihisar in central Anatolia and was being taken to Ankara, private NTV television reported.
The AKP later identified him as Osman Sarigun and said he was a party member who would face expulsion.
“AKP is against any form of violence... There is no room for violence in democratic politics,” AKP spokesman Omer Celik said on Twitter.
Eight other people have also been detained, officials said.
Speaking to AFP, the CHP’s Kaftancioglu welcomed the move to expel the suspect but said the problem was about the polarization of Turkish society.
“The situation will not change with one person’s dismissal unless the mentality encouraging attackers by polarizing society changes,” she said.
Erdogan had presented the local elections as a matter of national survival. He campaigned heavily even though he was not running in the election himself.
For his supporters, Erdogan is the strong leader Turkey needs to deal with its security threats and is a voice for more religiously conservative Turks.
Critics say Erdogan has stoked divisions by branding foes as enemies of the state and has undermined the rule of law with a broad crackdown on dissent.
The AKP has won every election since coming to power 17 years ago, but voters appeared to punish the party in major cities in this ballot as the economy slid into recession after a currency crisis last year.
Electoral authorities have given the CHP candidates their mandates for the Istanbul and Ankara mayor posts, but Erdogan’s AKP is seeking a re-run of the Istanbul vote, citing irregularities.
The CHP’s Ekrem Imamoglu won the Istanbul race by a very tight margin after two weeks of recounts.
The CHP held Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu responsible for “provocation” after he said last year he had ordered governors not to allow CHP members to join soldiers’ funerals.
Soylu ruled out any “outside provocation” in the incident, and said the main culprit was a relative of the dead soldier.