UN envoy says hard to hold Libya elections in December

"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.
Updated 30 September 2018

UN envoy says hard to hold Libya elections in December

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 organized 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 Muammar Qaddafi.
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.


Troops halt Lebanese ‘revolution bus’ over security concerns

Lebanese anti-government protesters flash victory signs as they head to the south of Lebanon on a 'revolution' bus from central Beirut on November 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Troops halt Lebanese ‘revolution bus’ over security concerns

  • The protest convoy is aiming to reach Nabatieh and Tyre, two cities that have challenged Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon during weeks of unrest

BEIRUT: A Lebanese “revolution bus” traveling from north to south to unite protesters was halted by troops outside the city of Sidon on Saturday.
The army set up a road block to prevent the bus and a large protest convoy entering Sidon, the third-largest city in the country.
Local media said that the decision had been made to defuse tensions in the area following widespread protests.
Lebanese troops blocked the Beirut-South highway at the Jiyeh-Rumailah checkpoint over “security concerns,” a military source told Arab News.
“Some people in Sidon objected to the crossing of the bus and we feared that problems may take place,” the source added.
A protester in Ilya Square in Sidon said: “Those who do not want the bus to enter Sidon should simply leave the square because there are many who want to welcome the bus.”
The army allowed the bus to enter the town of Rumailah, 2 km from Sidon. “The bus will stop here after nightfall because of security fears and the risk of an accident,” the military source said.
The protest convoy is aiming to reach Nabatieh and Tyre, two cities that have challenged Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon during weeks of unrest.
Activists said the protest bus “is spreading the idea of a peaceful revolution by unifying the people.”
“The pain is the same from the far north of Lebanon to the south and the only flag raised is the Lebanese flag,” one activist said.
Organizers of the protest convoy rejected claims that the cities of Sidon, Nabatieh and Tyre were reluctant to welcome the bus, and voiced their respect for the Lebanese army decision.

After leaving Akkar the bus passed through squares that witnessed protests in Tripoli, Batroun, Jbeil, Zouk Mosbeh, Jal El Dib and Beirut. Protesters chanted “Revolution” and lined the route of the convoy, turning it into a “procession of the revolution.”
The bus paused in Khalde, where the first victim of the protests, Alaa Abu Fakhr, was shot and killed a few days ago by a Lebanese soldier. The victim’s widow and family welcomed the convoy and protesters laid wreaths at the site of the shooting.
Activists’ tweets on Saturday claimed that life in Beirut’s southern suburbs is as difficult as in other areas of Lebanon.
“As a Shiite girl living in the heart of the southern suburbs, I deny that we are living well and not suffering. We are in a worse position than the rest of the regions,” said an activist who called herself Ruanovsky.
“No one is doing well,” said Wissam Abdallah. “The suburbs have external security and safety, but unfortunately there is a lot of corruption. There are forged car van plates, motorcycle mafia, Internet and satellite mafia, royalties mafia, and hashish and drugs mafia. Municipalities have to deal with these things as soon as possible.”