Libyan Leaders Commit to December Elections

Libyan Leaders Commit to December ElectionsLibyan Leaders Commit to December Elections

Four Libyan leaders on Tuesday committed to holding elections in the fractured country on December 10 in a joint statement issued at a peace conference in Paris.

The four men, who represent most but not all of Libya’s rival factions, also agreed to “accept the results of elections, and ensure appropriate funds and strong security arrangements are in place.”

The commitment to holding parliamentary and presidential polls this year came after four hours of talks in Paris where they faced pressure to agree on a political roadmap that could end seven years of conflict.

European leaders see stabilizing Libya as key to tackling militant threats and migration from the country, which has become a departure point for hundreds of thousands of Africans trying to reach Europe.

“I’m optimistic,” UN envoy Ghassan Salame told AFP at the end of the talks.

The Libyan invitees were Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli, and 75-year-old military strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose rival Libyan National Army dominates the country’s east.

Also present were Aguila Saleh Issa, the parliament speaker based in the eastern city of Tobruk who opposes the UN-backed administration, and Khalid Al-Mishri, the newly-elected head of the High Council of State, who both agreed to the statement.

“There is no solution other than via you,” Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi told the Libyan leaders at the opening of the talks. “If things go badly, it’s your responsibility.”

Macron called the final agreement “an essential step toward reconciliation,” adding that the conference was “historic” because it had brought the rivals together around the same table for the first time.

  Skeptical Analysts

Despite the French-led efforts to seek a political settlement, many analysts and diplomats were skeptical about real change on the ground.

Some have voiced doubt whether the country, which is swamped by weapons and controlled by a patchwork of political groups and armed militias, will be able to hold elections.

“I believe that elections are a big risk in a country armed like Libya,” Federica Saini Fasanotti, an analyst with the Washington-based Brookings Institution, told AFP.

Some countries, such as former colonial power Italy, had also argued that the country needed to agree on a new constitution before holding elections.

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