Libya talks set December 2021 date for elections: UN envoy

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Libyans at UN-led talks agreed to hold elections in December next year, the United Nations said Friday.

Participants at the talks in Tunisia “agreed that national elections should take place on 24 December 2021,” acting UN envoy Stephanie Williams told journalists in a virtual press conference.

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The world body is convening talks near Tunis to hash out a deal for a new transitional government for the country, torn apart by conflict since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi.

The administration would be charged with providing services and preparing for national polls, as well as tackling an economic crisis and a coronavirus outbreak that has killed over 900 people.

The political track of talks in Tunisia comes in parallel with military talks to fill in the details of a ceasefire deal in October, that formally ended over a year of fighting between eastern and western Libyan forces.

The 75 delegates at the Tunisia talks were selected by the UN to represent existing institutions and the diversity of Libyan society, but some Libyans have questioned their credibility and criticized the way they were selected.

Analysts also fear a government resulting from the talks could struggle to gain legitimacy and face pushback from members of existing institutions.

But Williams said the momentum was against “status quo” actors “trying to maintain their current privileges.”

“The international community has tools at its disposal to prevent spoilers, including through the use of sanctions,” she said.

The Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, which is helping to facilitate the talks, said the new government would not need a vote of confidence from Libya’s House of Representatives.

The HoR, elected in 2014, is based in Libya’s east and allied with military commander Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive in April 2019 to seize the capital Tripoli from a UN-recognized unity government.

Pro-unity government forces ended a bloody months-long stalemate in June by pushing Haftar’s forces back eastwards.

The two sides signed a landmark ceasefire deal in October, setting the scene for renewed diplomatic efforts for a political settlement to the long-running conflict.

Read more: Libya rivals agree to reopen main coastal road, implement truce

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