The heads of Libya‘s two rival legislative chambers met in Geneva on Tuesday for negotiations aimed at restoring a U.N.-led election process that fell apart last December.
An agreement on national elections would be a significant step toward putting an end to the turmoil that has raged for ten years since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011 with support from NATO.
Both organizations are recognised as the two legislative bodies under the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement, which was ratified by the U.N. However, since the country’s 2014 division into eastern and western factions, they have frequently engaged in open conflict.
Aguila Saleh, the speaker of the parliament, and Khaled al-Meshri, the chairman of the High State Council, arrived to the United Nations office in Geneva on Tuesday morning and sat sternly, separated by Stephanie Williams, the UN’s Libya adviser.
“It is now the time to make a final and courageous effort to ensure that this historic compromise takes place,” she said at the start of the talks.
In order to “ensure a clear road to the holding of national elections as soon as feasible,” she continued, the timetable and procedure would be discussed.
On the eve of the negotiations, U.N. Political Affairs Chief Rosemary DiCarlo hoped that the meeting would result in a “final and implementable agreement that would lead to the elections at the earliest practicable date.”
Analysts, however, were less optimistic since they saw few opportunities to prevent de facto partition or a resurgence of hostilities.
An agreement on the election-holding process would aid in ending the political impasse that has reopened rifts between the opposing factions involved in the most recent major war that was interrupted two years ago.
With one administration in the capital Tripoli and a competing one supported by the parliament in the coastal town of Sirte, there is currently no consensus on how to forward the political process or who should lead the country in the run-up to elections.
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