The United Nations has resumed a new round of negotiations in Libya to resolve the crisis in the chaotic country but without the Tobruk-based internationally recognized Libyan parliament which sought a delay.
UN special envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon started discussions in the Moroccan coastal town of Skhirat on Friday with the delegation from the Tripoli-based General National Congress present, but the recognized government has called for another week to prepare for the meeting.
The Tripoli delegation said they would consider any requests for adjourning the talks, but slammed retired General Khalifa Haftar who has been recently appointed as Libya’s new army chief.
On Tuesday, Haftar called for the talks to be scrapped:
“The UN and Europe cannot oblige us to sit at the table with terrorists. Forming a unity government with leaders of extremist movements, as proposed by mediators would… subvert the results of elections and the will of the vast majority of Libyan citizens,” he told the Italian ANSA news agency.
Three days of UN-backed peace talks between Libya’s rival governments ended on March 7 and the warring factions’ delegates returned to their home camps for consultation.
It was the first instance that representatives from the rival governments took part in active negotiation and discussed security arrangements and a potential unity government as well as the recalling of militias as ways to resolve the crisis which has wracked the oil-rich North African country.
The talks are scheduled to restart Wednesday. However, the elected parliament, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, is refusing to return to the negotiating table.
Leon, who is also head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said in Algeria on Tuesday that Libyans have to choose between reaching a political agreement to end its current crisis, or witness the North African country’s destruction.
UN attempts to broker an agreement between the rival governments have been stepped up due to the recent rise of groups allied to Takfiri militants and a steady flow of African migrants traveling to Europe from Libya.
Libya plunged into chaos after the ouster of longtime dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, which gave rise to a patchwork of heavily-armed militias and deep political divisions. Three years on, the country is still struggling with insecurity.
The oil-rich nation has been the scene of numerous clashes between government forces and rival militant groups that refuse to lay down arms.