December elections in Libya 'unrealistic', UN envoy says

December elections in Libya 'unrealistic', UN envoy says
Fighting in the capital is poised to delay elections by several months that were scheduled for December.
2 min read
30 September, 2018
Ghassan Salame, the UN's Libya envoy, speaking in Tripoli [Getty]

The UN envoy to Libya said that holding elections as hoped on 10 December could be unrealistic, as fighting continues to rock the North African country.  

"There is still a lot to do. It may not be possible to respect the date of December 10," Ghassan Salame said in an interview with AFP.

Rival Libyan leaders agreed to a Paris-brokered deal in May to hold a nationwide poll by the end of the year.

But Salame said that polls may not be organised before "three or four months".

"We can hold elections in the near future, yes. But certainly not now," he added in the interview on Saturday evening at the highly fortified UN mission in Tripoli.

Militia clashes in Tripoli's suburbs have left more than 100 people dead since late August.

Libya remains divided between the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli and a rival administration in the east that enjoys support from Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

The GNA was set up under a 2015 UN-brokered deal that raised hopes of an easing of the chaos that followed the 2011 NATO-backed revolution which ousted Libyan dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

The Paris meeting brought together for the first time GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj and military strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose self-styled Libyan National Army dominates the country's east.

The Paris agreement included a 16 September deadline to come up with an electoral law, forming the "constitutional base" for a vote later in the year. 

But many observers have said the timetable was overly ambitious given ongoing instability and territorial disputes across the country, along with a economy that is flagging despite Libya's vast oil wealth.

The UN is hoping that presidential and parliamentary elections will help turn the page on years of chaos in Libya.

However, on Saturday Libya's foreign minister called on the UN's political mission in the country to transform into a "security and stability" support role.

That call comes on the heels of a month of militia clashes in Tripoli that has left more than 100 people dead and displaced thousands.

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