UN Security Council backs Libya elections, without specifying date
The UN Security Council endorsed a French-backed plan for general elections in Libya by the end of the year, reports said on Wednesday.
"The Security Council welcomes the commitment of these parties, as set out in the Paris declaration, to work constructively with the UN to organise credible and peaceful parliamentary and Presidential elections, and to respect the results of these elections," said the text adopted by the UN body.
It said, too, that it "welcomes the momentum generated by the international conference on Libya hosted in Paris by President Emmanuel Macron on May 29, 2018" under the auspices of the United Nations.
That meeting brought together for the first time Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-backed unity government in Tripoli, and 75-year-old military strongman Khalifa Haftar, whose rival Libyan National Army dominates the country's east.
Also present were Aguila Saleh Issa, the parliament speaker based in the eastern city of Tobruk, and Khalid Al-Mishri, the newly-elected head of the High Council of State.
The four main Libyan leaders had agreed in Paris to hold elections on December 10 in a bid to lead the country out of years of chaos and fighting that began with a popular uprising in 2011 to overthrow late Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
Wednesday’s Security Council announcement fell short of mentioning the December 10 date agreed upon last month during the Paris meeting between Macron and rival Libyan leaders.
Diplomatic sources said that in negotiating the exact working of the Security Council text, some countries had opposed "explicitly" mentioning December 10 as the election date.
They wanted approval by all the parties for a constitution and a clear electoral law before settling on a precise date for polls, the same sources said.
In its statement, the Security Council also noted the importance of "a constitutional basis for elections," as outlined in the Paris declaration.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame has long been urging all the parties to agree on a constitution and a timetable for its adoption.
In Paris, the four Libyan leaders had promised to find a "constitutional base" for elections by September 16, without specifying if such a deal would be put to a referendum.
That date was not mentioned in the UN statement either.
The question of the constitution provokes sharp disagreements in Libya. The process, which would define among other things the powers of a future president, could "delay the elections," said a source close to the negotiations at the Paris conference in May.
Agencies contributed to this report.