Libya’s UN-backed government urges nationwide polls in March
Head of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) has called on all political groups and armed factions in the country to endorse nationwide elections next year, an initiative that is expected to stumble amid widening differences between rival camps of power.
Fayez Seraj, who serves as GNA’s prime minister, said in a speech released late Saturday that his government would try to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in March 2018, calling on rival groups based in east and west of Libya to set aside differences and contribute to the political process.
Seraj said the roadmap could help Libya overcome the current crisis and move toward unity.
“I am confident that the national spirit will overcome the narrow personal interests, and invite everyone to offer compromise even if it’s painful to do so,” said the premier, while also calling for a national ceasefire and the gradual merging of rival parliamentary bodies based in Tripoli and in the eastern city of Tobruk.
Libya, an oil-rich country in North Africa, has been beset by widespread fighting and political rivalry since long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled and killed in 2011. The rival governments in west and east of the country, which enjoy support of alliances of militant groups, have rejected numerous efforts to bring an end to the country’s conflict.
The GNA took office in late 2015 when the UN finally managed to gain partial support from political and armed factions and convinced them to sign a peace deal. However, the eastern-based groups, including the militia led by powerful military commander Khalifa Haftar, have rejected GNA’s authority. This comes as fighting and political division has made it increasingly difficult for Seraj to form a functioning government since he took office in March last year.