Declining ‘international interference’ a chance for Libya vote: UN

UN Libya envoy Ghassan Salame on Saturday urged the conflict-torn country to seize an opportunity to forge its own path towards hoped-for elections next year while “international interference” is declining.

Countries from Britain and France to Egypt, Turkey and Russia have been accused by critics of manoeuvering in Libya outside of the UN process in bids to secure their own interests.

Salame said he hoped the necessary conditions to hold a national vote would be in place “a few months from now” and urged Libyans “to seize the opportunity of attention being directed elsewhere” to work without foreign interference.

“I feel that there is a lot of interference in the Libyan case… with weapons, money, you name it,” he told a conference in Rome discussing today’s challenges in the Mediterranean.

But he said there was now “a window during which there is not the same level of interference”.

“Support for various actors has gone down,” he added. “There is declining international interference (and) Libyans must come together and build permanent institutions”.

Salame unveiled a plan in September for a legislative and presidential vote by next year in a bid to end years of political turmoil after the 2011 overthrow of long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

He has insisted on a new constitution, which would be put before a referendum before elections and he wants a national conference to reintegrate all the country’s squabbling actors.

“Elections should never be a sort of quick fix solution,” he said, adding that the country needed to meet such technical conditions as voter registration and the adoption of an electoral law.

“Everyone who wants to vote needs to be able to do so safely and freely. We also need the political players to agree to accept the results,” adding that “all conditions” had to be met for elections to be held.

After a 2015 UN-backed agreement, a unity Government of National Accord (GNA) with Fayez al-Sarraj as prime minister took office in Tripoli last year.

But it has struggled to impose its authority elsewhere, particularly in the far east, where military strongman Khalifa Haftar controls much of the territory and supports a rival parliament.

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