‘Decisive’ phase of Libya talks to start next week, UN envoy says

‘Decisive’ phase of Libya talks to start next week, UN envoy says

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The United Nations special envoy to Libya says a decisive phase of negotiations between Libya’s warring factions is set to start next week.

“The UN mission has decided to give the parties time to organize and prepare for this decisive phase,” said Bernardino Leon in the Moroccan coastal town of Skhirat on Friday.

“They will be back here on Thursday, and they have to come all of them ready to negotiate,” he added.

Leon also stated that the UN has notified the rival groups of “the sense of urgency” in the violence-wracked North African country, urging them to find a political solution to end Libya’s deadly crisis.

“The crisis in Libya is deepening in all aspects. To reach a solution soon… Libya cannot wait anymore,” he said.

According to the UN official, the talks are aimed at forming “the national unity government, which is the most important element, and the security arrangements.”

Meanwhile, the European Union said the bloc is mulling over a plan to send a civil or a military mission to the oil-rich country if the negotiations bring about a favorable result.

“We have in mind both military and civilian missions to contribute to the protection of an eventual government of national unity,” said an unnamed EU official.

Earlier in the day, Leon held talks with a delegation from the Tripoli-based General National Congress in Skhirat.

This is while Libya’s Tobruk-based internationally recognized government had no representative in the Skhirat talks, saying it needs another week to prepare for the negotiations with the armed opposition.

The two sides have so far held several rounds of UN-brokered peace talks that have failed to deliver any practical results.

Source of conflict

Libya has two rival camps vying for control of the country, with one controlling Tripoli, and the other, Libya’s internationally recognized government, governing the cities of Bayda and Tobruk.

Libya’s government and elected parliament moved to the northeastern city of Tobruk after an armed group based in the northwestern city of Misrata seized Tripoli and most government institutions in August 2014.

Libya plunged into chaos following a 2011 uprising against the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. The ouster of Gaddafi gave rise to a patchwork of heavily-armed militias and deep political divisions.

The country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces and rival militia groups, which refuse to lay down arms.

ISIL enters the equation in Libya

The presence of ISIL Takfiri terrorists has further complicated the situation in the country.

The terrorist group, which controls some regions in Iraq and Syria, has also launched operations in Libya.

In February, 45 people were killed and dozens of others injured in ISIL’s triple bomb explosions that struck Libya’s northeastern city of al-Qubah.

In the same month, the Takfiri group also released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya. The victims had reportedly been abducted in the country’s northern coastal city of Sirte in two attacks in December and January.

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