U.N. Libya envoy pushes for meeting on elections

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – The United Nations’ envoy to Libya on Thursday asked the country’s main powerbrokers to designate representatives for a meeting aimed at reaching an election settlement, part of an apparent new push for a national vote.

Efforts to bring Libya’s rival factions to hold an election have been the main focus of diplomacy for years, but there has been little progress towards a vote since a 2020 ceasefire that paused most major warfare.

The envoy, Abdulaye Bathily, said in a statement that the main groups should move to a new stage to deliver elections, saying they should identify what issues must be resolved to begin the polling process.

Potential attendees include the Government of National Unity (GNU), Presidency Council and High State Council (HSC), all based in the capital Tripoli, and the House of Representatives (HoR) and Libyan National Army, both in Benghazi in the east.

Libya has had little peace or stability since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, and split in 2014 between eastern factions in Benghazi and western factions in Tripoli, with rival administrations governing in each area.

Last month the speaker of the HoR, which is Libya’s internationally recognised parliament, issued new laws to allow an election to move forward, though these were not accepted by other parts of the political system.

The last big push to hold an election, in December 2021, collapsed at the last minute because of disputes over the rules. Libya’s last election was in 2014.

One major obstacle now is disagreement among Libya’s factions over whether a new government must be installed to oversee the process. The GNU has refused to step down until after an election.

While all major political players in the country have repeatedly called for elections, many Libyans have voiced scepticism that they genuinely seek a vote that could push most of them from positions of authority.

The United States, Britain, Germany, Italy and France issued a joint statement backing the move as an opportunity to “set Libya on the path to long-term stability”.

(Reporting by Reuters Libya newsroom; Editing by Angus McDowall and Alexandra Hudson)