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Libya UN envoy expects election date to be set at coming talks

The United Nations acting Libya envoy expects coming political talks to designate a date for national elections, she told Reuters on Tuesday, after the country’s two warring sides agreed a cease-fire last week.

“What resonates is a clear and direct desire for there to be elections in as rapid a timeframe as possible,” Stephanie Williams said.

Libya has been split since 2014 between factions based in the capital Tripoli, in the west, and in the city of Benghazi, in the east.

Last week a truce was agreed in Geneva by the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which is recognized by the UN, and Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

Previous cease-fires have collapsed and earlier efforts to agree a wider political settlement have run aground. The political talks have started online and will move to Tunis on Nov. 9. 

The UN has said it is imperative to agree on arrangements to hold elections as soon as possible, including by forming a new unified leadership to oversee them.

“Whatever executive authority they agree on really needs to have a clear focus — preparing for the elections,” Williams said. “I do fully expect there to be a date designated for elections.”

Williams said she was hopeful for the talks, citing a recent lack of fighting, progress in ending an eight-month oil blockade and reopening internal transport routes, and involvement of figures from across Libya’s political spectrum.
“We have learned from previous political processes not to exclude any political constituency and so in this dialogue you do also have representation from the previous regime,” she said.