UN envoy says Libya latest peace talks have gone ‘well beyond what we have expected’
27 March 2015 – Libyan stakeholders have reached a consensus on a range of issues – including on the need for a unity government and security arrangements – and are now convinced that there is a political solution to the country’s crisis, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Bernardino Léon, said at the conclusion of the latest round of peace talks which he praised for making “very important progress.”
“Today, we have an agreement on the scope of issues, the scope of institutions, aspects we are going to deal with in the coming weeks, and I believe this is a very important step in the right direction,” Mr. Léon said at a press conference in Morocco yesterday, on the heels of a political dialogue aimed at reaching an agreement to draw the North African country out of crisis.
“This week we have gone well beyond what we expected, because we have reduced the scope of issues we are discussing. We have published these general ideas and they have been accepted as the basis of discussion in the coming weeks. So, I think all participants and all Libyans feel now very encouraged that we are really getting very close to the agreement,” he added.
Mr. Léon said that the parties have welcomed the proposals and ideas published by UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), as a basis for future discussions, and have equally welcomed the documents that were distributed yesterday as a basis for the future agreement.
“It does not mean they agree with everything in these documents. Of course, we still have a long way. We still have to work together. We still have to work hard, but I believe that we have – and really this has been shared by all the participants – that we have gone beyond the point of no return” he said.
Parties reached consensus on a range of issues. First of all, all armed groups must put an end to the fighting because it only brings about “more suffering, more lives that will be lost.” In addition to ending the arms escalation, a verbal escalation must end as well.
“Those who are sceptical, those who don’t believe in the political solution should give us a chance,” urged Mr. Léon, calling on politicians, social leaders, and religious leaders to give an opportunity for peace.
Different groups must work together, on a range of security and military issues, where different armed groups, militias, but of course the Libyan army are involved so that everyone feels part of the agreement and discussion. That also means including municipalities and political leaders who will soon meet in Algiers and tribal leaders expected to meet in Egypt soon.
Expressing concern over the recent kidnapping of two brothers of a Member of Parliament from the House of Representatives in Tobruk, Mr. Léon said that UNSMIL is working actively to free them. This case is similar to the one of Dr. Suleiman Zobi, a former member of the General National Congress in Tripoli and who has been kidnapped for a few months.
“We think that it is unacceptable that armed groups kidnap anyone, any person in Libya, but especially people who are relatives or who are directly politicians. This cannot happen and we call very strongly on those involved in these acts to release these persons immediately,” Mr. Léon said.
Peace talks are expected to resume next week, he added, emphasizing that “Libya does not have the time to wait.”