UN urges Libyans to prioritize national interest in November talks

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi and Stephanie Williams, the deputy special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Political Affairs in Libya, hold a press conference at Carthage Palace on the eastern outskirts Tunis on Monday. (AFP)
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Updated 14 October 2020

UN urges Libyans to prioritize national interest in November talks

  • Participants should take part on the condition ‘they remove themselves from consideration in high government positions’

CARTHAGE, Tunisia: The UN’s Libya envoy on Monday urged rival parties to place the national interest before political ambitions when they meet for talks next month aimed at ending a decade of bloodshed.

The North African country is dominated by armed groups, riven by local conflicts and divided between two bitterly opposed adminstrations: A United Nations-recognized unity government based in Tripoli and its eastern-based rival backed by strongman Khalifa Haftar.

Neighbouring Tunisia is set to host talks in early November including representatives of civil society, tribesmen, political leaders, and members of bodies representing both administrations.

“What we want to see in terms of participation is people who are not there for their own political aspirations, but for their country,” said UN envoy Stephanie Williams on Monday, after meeting Tunisian President Kais Saied.

Asked whether Haftar or unity government chief Fayez Al-Sarraj would be present, she said participants would be able to take part on the condition “that they remove themselves from consideration in high government positions.”

This included membership of the key Presidential Council, the prime minister’s job and ministerial posts, she told AFP.

The talks are intended to prepare for national elections, she added.

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi called for “a dialogue between Libyans that could lead to a political solution to the crisis.”

Saied spoke on Monday with his Algerian counterpart Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who saluted the renewed dialogue and said that Algeria, another neighbor of Libya, was “always at Tunisia’s side.”

Tebboune also spoke of a visit to Tunisia after the Nov. 1 referendum on constitutional reform in Algeria.

The Algerian president’s office confirmed that the two men had spoken via telephone.

“The President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, received a telephone call on the part of his counterpart Kais Saied, and they reviewed bilateral relations and his planned visit to Tunisia,” it said in a statement.

Tebboune “welcomed Tunisia’s organization of inter-Libyan dialogue under the auspices of the UN,” the statement said.

A previous agreement between rival Libyan sides, signed in Morocco in 2015, created a unity government that was never recognized by Haftar.

In April 2019 he launched an offensive to seize Tripoli, but was pushed back after over a year of fighting.

Since his forces were driven from western Libya, the rival sides have resumed talks on specific themes: Institutions, military and political affairs.

The Tunis talks will begin on Oct. 26 by videoconference, before continuing face-to-face in early November.


Deal on horizon after Lebanon maritime border talks

Updated 2 min 42 sec ago

Deal on horizon after Lebanon maritime border talks

  • Hariri condemns ‘heinous criminal attack’ on French worshippers 

BEIRU: Talks between Israel and Lebanon over disputed maritime borders are expected to resume next month following two days of productive negotiations, the US and UN said.

US-mediated talks held at the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) headquarters in Naqoura ended on Thursday with plans for another round of negotiations to begin on Nov. 11.

Lebanon presented documents and maps claiming its right to 2,270 sq. km of the marine area, a position at odds with Israel.

Following the talks, the US and the Office of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon released a statement saying: “Building on progress from their Oct. 14 meeting, on Oct. 28 and 29 representatives from the governments of Israel and Lebanon held productive talks mediated by the US and hosted by the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL).

“The US and UNSCOL remain hopeful that these negotiations will lead to a long-awaited resolution. The parties committed to continue negotiations next month.”

Meanwhile, a terrorist attack that left three people dead in a church in the southern French city of Nice has drawn widespread condemnation in Lebanon.

Prime minister-designate Saad Hariri condemned what he described as a “heinous criminal attack.”

After meeting with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian, Lebanon’s top Sunni religious authority, he said: “The incidents in France are regrettable, but we condemn in return the words and cartoons mocking the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him). But what happened today in Nice is a very regrettable murder because it makes it seem like all Muslims have the same mentality, and this is entirely false.

“Thoughts, speech or revenge should not be based on this logic. This discourse is wrong. Just as well, such cartoons should not be published, and we condemn them. But the important thing is to realize that Islam is fine.”