Rival Libyan leaders agree to hold national elections, says UN

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Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj, 3rd left, and the rival leader, military commander Khalifa Haftar, left, have met in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. (AFP)
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Libyan PM Fayez al-Sarraj met with eastern commander Haftar in the UAE. (File/AFP)
Updated 01 March 2019
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Rival Libyan leaders agree to hold national elections, says UN

  • Libya has been torn between rival administrations and a myriad of militias
  • Unity government leader Fayez Al-Sarraj met Khalifa Haftar on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi

TRIPOLI: Libya’s internationally recognized prime minister and the military commander of its breakaway eastern half have met and agreed that national elections are necessary, the UN said on Thursday.

Wednesday’s meeting in UAE was the first to be confirmed between Fayez Al-Serraj and commander Khalifa Haftar since November, when they came face to face in Palermo, Sicily.

They agreed “on the need to end the transitional stages in Libya through holding general elections,” the UN Libya mission (UNSMIL) said in a Tweet.

“They also agreed on ways to maintain stability in the country and unify its institutions.”

The UAE has emerged as major player in the oil producing-country, whose economy and political institutions have been in turmoil since long-time leader Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in 2011.

The UN, supported by Western powers, has sought for almost two years to hold elections as a way of ending eight years of conflict. A proposed date of Dec. 10 came and went date due to lack of progress in resolving differences between the heavily divided nation’s rival powers.

Al-Serraj’s spokesman confirmed a meeting with Haftar had taken place but said no date for elections had been set. There was no immediate comment from the commander’s office.

Al-Serraj heads Libya’s internationally recognized government in the capital Tripoli while Haftar is based in the east and allied to a parallel administration. The UN gave no further details about the Abu Dhabi meeting. 

After similar encounters it has engineered it often releases pictures showing hand shakes between the participants. It made no such picture available on Thursday.

The UN tweet made no mention of a UNSMIL plan to a national conference to decide on the type of elections, an idea which has met resistance in the east where many see it as waste of time.

Haftar’s forces last month started an offensive in southern Libya, capturing the main city in the region and two oil fields.

Analysts have warned that the UN’s efforts could be threatened after Haftar’s forces launched an offensive into the south in mid-January, aimed at rooting out “terrorists” and foreign fighters.

Powerful Tripoli-based militias have condemned Haftar’s operation as a power grab, although the GNA itself has not been as explicit in its opposition. People traffickers have taken advantage of the chaos to turn Libya into a major conduit for illegal migrants.


UN presents new plan for Yemen pullback from Hodeidah

Updated 18 min 49 sec ago
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UN presents new plan for Yemen pullback from Hodeidah

  • The redeployment of forces was agreed in December under a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden that offered the best hope in years of moving toward an end to the war
  • The UN envoy's statement did not give a date for the start of the pullback, which would mark the first step towards de-escalation

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations will present a new plan for the pullback of forces from Yemen's flashpoint city of Hodeidah following talks with the government and the Houthis, a UN envoy said Tuesday.
The redeployment of forces was agreed in December under a ceasefire deal reached in Sweden that offered the best hope in years of moving toward an end to the war that has pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.
"Following constructive discussions with both parties, there is significant progress towards an agreement to implement phase one of the redeployments of the Hodeida agreement," said a statement from Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy for Yemen.
"Operational details will be presented to the parties in the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) for endorsement shortly," he added.
The UN envoy's statement did not give a date for the start of the pullback, which would mark the first step towards de-escalation.
Griffiths said he "looks forward to the swift endorsement of the plan."
The United Nations announced a deal on the two-stage pullback from Hodeidah city and its ports on February 17, but the redeployment failed to materialize on the ground.
UN diplomats said the Houthis were refusing to pull away from the ports as part of the first stage. 
Griffiths and head of the RCC, Danish General Michael Lollesgaard, have been holding talks with all sides to overcome the final hurdles.
The Red Sea port of Hodeidah is the entry point for the bulk of imported goods and relief aid to Yemen.
The conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world's worst humanitarian conflict.